Ar­chive Min­i­mum Cost Hous­ing Group

Min­i­mum Cost Hous­ing Group sul­phur con­crete blocks Pre­sented by the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Ar­chi­tec­ture

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In­ge­nu­ity Pre­sented by the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Ar­chi­tec­ture

In the early 1970s, The Min­i­mum Cost Hous­ing Group — a re­search unit at McGill Univer­sity School of Ar­chi­tec­ture in Mon­treal fo­cused on hu­man set­tle­ment prob­lems and sought to em­power in­di­vid­u­als through small-scale tech­nol­ogy gen­er­ated from waste cy­cles of nat­u­ral gas and pe­tro­leum pro­duc­tion. Among other de­sir­able char­ac­ter­is­tics, sul­phur has high bond­ing strength, good in­su­la­tion value, and, when mixed with ag­gre­gates, a com­pres­sive strength com­pa­ra­ble to that of con­crete. They de­vel­oped sim­ple tools and tech­niques, and put them to the test. To­day the trial-and-er­ror process is pre­served in the CCA col­lec­tion — by pho­to­graphs, tex­tual records, books and re­ports, and, most mem­o­rably, by 13 uniquely shaped sul­phur con­crete blocks. Some­times the sur­faces are im­preg­nated with im­ages from old mag­a­zines (sul­phur at­tracts the metal­lic print­ing ink in the pres­ence of heat). At once repet­i­tive and idio­syn­cratic, the mod­u­lar blocks are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a greater am­bi­tion. As the Group wrote in their 1972 pub­li­ca­tion, The Ecol Op­er­a­tion, they are “able to be shaped by the hands, and cul­ture, of men in dif­fer­ent parts of the world”. The Cana­dian Cen­tre for Ar­chi­tec­ture, founded in 1979 by Phyl­lis Lam­bert in Mon­treal, is an in­ter­na­tional re­search in­sti­tu­tion op­er­at­ing from the fun­da­men­tal premise that ar­chi­tec­ture is a pub­lic con­cern. www.cca.qc.ca

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