Holcim and Norman Foster Foundation partner to make Essential Homes sustainable

  • Essential Homes Research Project to be showcased in Venice during Architecture Biennale 2023 as a “Laboratory of the Future”
  • Norman Foster Foundation’s Essential Home design brings safety, comfort and wellbeing to displaced communities
  • Holcim deploys range of green building solutions, making sustainable building accessible to all


Holcim and the Norman Foster Foundation announce the launch of their Essential Homes Research Project in Venice on 17 May, during the 2023 Architecture Biennale. In this partnership, the Norman Foster Foundation designed essential housing to provide safety, comfort and wellbeing for displaced communities who can live in temporary settlements for over twenty years. Holcim built these essential homes with a range of its green solutions, from ECOPact low carbon concrete to Elevate Insulation boards, to make sustainable building accessible to all.

Lord Norman Foster, President, Norman Foster Foundation: “Natural and manmade disasters create a continuous exodus of people seeking instant shelter. Traditionally tents or variations on them are the primary response, offering scant protection from the elements. How can we do better? During the Venice Biennale we show our work-in-progress on this idea – it is the outcome of a few months of intensive activity in collaboration with Holcim.”

Jan Jenisch, CEO, Holcim: “At Holcim we want sustainable buildings to be accessible to all, to improve living standards, while building a net zero future. It was a natural fit for us to partner with Norman Foster and his team to make their vision of essential homes sustainable. With our innovative solutions, we bring safety, comfort and weather resilience to this essential housing concept, built in a low carbon, circular and energy-efficient way.

Holcim deployed a range of its green building solutions in the Essential Housing Research project to make sustainable building accessible to all. Its ECOPact low carbon concrete brings resilience and strength to the project. Its insulation solutions, from Elevate boards to Airium foam, provide thermal and acoustic comfort to enhance wellbeing. Its Hydromedia permeable concrete protects nature by enabling water flow to recharge soils and groundwater.

The Essential Home Research project will be unveiled at the Time Space Existence exhibition organized by the European Cultural Center during the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale. A real-size prototype will be displayed in the Marinaressa Gardens, supported by an exhibition hosted in Palazzo Mora. In line with the Biennale’s theme “Laboratories of the Future,” this research project opens the conversation on how to provide essential housing for all in a sustainable way.

This is the second project presented by the Norman Foster Foundation and Holcim at the Venice Architecture Biennale aiming to tackle a major societal challenge. Their first collaboration, the “Droneport”, was the first full-scale prototype of a hangar for drones, designed to distribute medical supplies in Africa, and presented at the 15th Biennale in 2016. Droneport prototype was built with Durabric, Holcim's low-carbon earth-based brick for affordable housing. The collaboration included Block Research Group at ETH Zurich and MecoConcept Toulouse.

About Holcim

Holcim is a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. Driven by its purpose to build progress for people and the planet, its 60,000 employees are on a mission to decarbonize building, while improving living standards for all. The company empowers its customers across all regions to build better with less, with its broad range of low-carbon and circular solutions, from ECOPact to ECOPlanet. With its innovative systems, from Elevate’s roofing to PRB’s insulation, Holcim makes buildings more sustainable in use, driving energy efficiency and green retrofitting. With sustainability at the core of its strategy, Holcim is becoming a net-zero company with 1.5°C targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

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This document contains forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements do not constitute forecasts regarding results or any other performance indicator, but rather trends or targets, as the case may be, including with respect to plans, initiatives, events, products, solutions and services, their development and potential. Although Holcim believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions as at the time of publishing this document, investors are cautioned that these statements are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Holcim, including but not limited to the risks described in the Holcim's annual report available on its website (www.holcim.com) and uncertainties related to the market conditions and the implementation of our plans. Accordingly, we caution you against relying on forward-looking statements. Holcim does not undertake to provide updates of these forward-looking statements.

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