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“The technology on a human scale”

Professional: US$ 250
Student with registration statement 1st half of 2018: US$ 50
Tourism agency


to the 12th International Symposium on Ferrocement and Thin Cement Composites: the technology on a human scale – FERRO12 that will take place from July 15th to July 18th , 2018, in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The symposium will be held at the Regional Council of Engineering and Agronomy of Minas Gerais (Crea-Minas) for the first time in South America.

Ferrocement arrived in Brazil in 1950 with a visit of the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi to São Paulo, where he delivered a course about reinforced concrete. At the time, Professors Dante Martinelli and Frederick Schiel from the School of Engineering of São Carlos at the University of São Paulo learned and used the technology in the construction of the school pavilions already in 1960. From this first contact, we developed several studies and applications of this technology, what stimulated the creation of the Group of São Carlos, that devoted themselves to the research and development of ferrocement in Brazil.

The studies by the Group of São Carlos brought great benefit to the work of architect João Filgueiras Lima, known as “Lelé”, who used the great potential that this technology offers in his architectural production. His work was famous by public buildings, schools, hospitals, community equipment, and drainage and retention projects. Lelé saw in Ferrocement an alternative technology to enable slum upgrading projects in Salvador, where light weight material was a key issue due to the conditions of the access to construction sites.

The similarity of the construction of pug process with ferrocement stimulated Prof. Alexander Diogenes to implement the Ferrocement Project in Ceará Federal University in the 1980’s. This project made ferrocement a popular and professional technology in the Brazilian semiarid region with applications in healthcare, sanitation, housing, food, rural infrastructure and art.

In the 1990’s, the Sanitation Company of Minas Gerais studied the technology and invested in the construction of dozens of water treatment plants (WTP), Sewage Treatment Stations and Reservoirs up to 500 m³. They built a WTP in ferrocement capable of storing 150 l/s – the world’s largest plant – in Divinópolis/MG.

FERRO12 will be named after an adapted quote from Lelé: “The technology on a human scale”, referring to Ferrocement, of which strength, elasticity, flexibility and low cost, associated with moldings, allows ‘resistance by its form.’ In addition, its free shape and size, light weight, affinity with pre-molding and the possibility to dispense the use of molds, make it even more suited to low-income housing projects, small school buildings and urbanization, sanitation and drainage works in densely populated urban areas.

It is with the intent to resume research and production of knowledge in this area that Crea-Minas and the Union of Engineers of Minas Gerais are engaged on hosting Ferro12.


João Filgueiras Lima (Rio de Janeiro RJ, 1932). Architect, urban planner, builder. He graduated in 1955 at the National School of Fine Arts – Enba, in Rio de Janeiro. Recent graduated, worked as a designer at the Institute of Retirees and Pensioners – IAP, and in 1957 received the mandate to develop and monitor the construction workers’ accommodation in Brasília. Moving to the future capital of Brazil, in the beginning of construction, Lelé got involved in the research of industrial components for large-scale works, study that leads him to travel to countries of the European socialist bloc. Between the mid 1960s and early 1970s, he makes his first authorial projects: the residence to the embassy of South Africa in 1965 and the headquarters of automakers Disbrave-Volkswagen, also in 1965, the Automobile Ford Plateau in 1972 and Codipe-Mercedes Benz in 1973, all in Brasília. Using the prefabricated building systems in series, these projects demonstrate their formal speculation capacity for reinforced concrete components, consolidating its own language. His first precast plants are assembled in Salvador, in 1979, to urban designs created by Mayor Mario Kertész (1945).


Looking to optimize the transport of parts and work on construction sites, develops studies with a lighter material: the reinforced grout. This work has continued in small schools in Abadiânia, in 1982 in the countryside of Goiás state, in “schools factory” of Rio de Janeiro in 1984, and Community Equipment Factory – Faec, 1985 in Salvador, focused on the production of parts of urban equipment, such as: stairs, retaining wall, rain channel, benchs, bus stop, catwalk etc. The “hospitals factories” set up for the construction of Sarah Kubitschek network for treatment of diseases of musculoskeletal system, concomitantly to these, opening an experimental field that goes beyond the manufacture of only architectural building elements, including hospital objects. The greatest technical achievement of these projects relates to the quality of ventilation and natural lighting system, which helps in the healing process of patients.

It is worth noting that Lelé’s relationship with the hospital program, which becomes intimate, began out of a fortuitous event: a car accident with his wife in 1963, which takes him to know Aloysio Campos da Paz (1934), a doctor who after some while presides the Foundation of Social Pioneers of Sarah Kubitschek Hospitals. Later, the same lighting system, ventilation and prefabrication of components is applied in projects of Courts of Auditors and Municipal Administrative Centers in several Brazilian capitals. His international recognition is consolidated with the Award of the Ibero-American Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism in Madrid, 1998; Special room at the 2000 Venice Biennale; and the Great Latin American Award of Architecture of the 9th International Biennial of Architecture of Buenos Aires in 2001.