The concept of Mercado de Reciclagem

The design goal is to recycle – architectural modification, intervention, transformation – the foreign modern architectural building which has been transformed into a vertical slum and to turn it into a more permanent type of residence for the present community with new socioeconomic development opportunities in the Mozambican neoliberal context. The focus of the design is based on the idea of generating a durable socioeconomic platform on the plot of the Grande Hotel and not directly on improving the living conditions of the individual dwellings in the Grande Hotel building. In the long-term perspective the increased wealth will lead to improve the living conditions in these individual dwellings.

As mentioned above, are the Grande Hotel inhabitants are forced to compete in the existing fixed informal economy to gain a miserable income.  The ‘Mercado de Reciclagem’ – the recycling market – is a concept that opens up new business opportunities whereby the Grande Hotel inhabitants are able to complement the existing local informal economy to gain a durable and sufficient income. At the Mercado de Reciclagem the Beirians can sell their waste products in a wide range of different workshops. Each workshop is specialized in the transforming or repairing of specific types of goods. The final product will be sold by the workshop holders to gain a profit. This socioeconomic concept opens up great possibilities for the Grande Hotel inhabitants to have a sustained livelihood prosperity that will release them from poverty. The city of Beira will also benefit. Besides providing new business opportunities for the existing economy, it will also make a contribution to the environment. The municipal dumpsite would be less attractive to use for the economical benefit of the Mercado de Reciclagem. They can now earn money with waste. The political interests will be that it generates a positive image by how inhabitants of the city are able to develop and pull themselves out of poverty together in a positive (socio)economic and environmental perspective. The positive drive could be beneficial to the image of the city as a prosperous business climate to attract new companies. The benefit of the Ponta Gêa neighbourhood is that it improves liveability because of all the new activities. The economic activities will contribute to the social integration of the Grande Hotel inhabitants in the urban society of Beira. The new economic complementation will change the negative excluding image of ‘whato mundo’ towards new social networks that integrate the Grande Hotel into the urban society.

A civil amenity site – also known as a ‘household waste-recycling centre’ – is a comparative example that explains the organization of the Mercado de Reciclagem. A civil amenity site is a facility in every municipality of the European Union to which you can take bulk waste. The average civic amenity site consists of a large platform you can drive on top of and in order to distribute and sort the waste into different containers that stand next to the platform (Fig. 1). In the context of the Mercado de Reciclagem each container will be a different workshop which is specialized in the recycling of a specific group of materials or products. Each workshop is owned by a different entrepreneur and will pay each consumer who offers waste, recycles it and resells the final products. During the recycling process a workshop could also obtain other materials linked to its specialization, which would lead to an internal stream of materials between the workshops (Fig. 2). The diagram of the internal organization also considers the incoming and outgoing streams as well as the average suspected size and quantity of how the specific materials will be transported, in order: by foot or by car.


Fig. 1: Civic amenity site of Lelystad, The Netherlands                                      Fig. 2: Internal organisation diagram of Mercado de Reciclagem


Master plan

The intervention of the Mercado de Reciclagem on the current site of the Grande Hotel is visually explained in the next four steps:

1. Intervention

The garden is polluted by the swimming pool and is mainly unused. The amount of space is suitable for implementing the Mercado. To make the site easily accessible for visitors, the basement and the ground floor level will be cut though in the existing block B. The number of dwellings removed dwellings will be distributed by the addition of the workshops. The intervention also makes an architectural gesture to reclaim the Grande Hotel for the city and implement a new fictive wing as a development for this new era of the Grande Hotel.

 2. Connection

The intervention connects the site of the Mercado de Reciclagem with the existing street on the other side of the existing building. On the street the Mercado can be connected to the informal public transportation network of so-called chapa’s. The other horizontal line will be the access route for incoming and outgoing materials. The existing church and mosque remain on the site. These are the existing gathering places that attract possible consumers. For social and religious reasons it is also an ethical reason remaining the places of worship and integrating them into the plan.

3. Implementation

The different workshops are situated along the connection lines. This is done according to the organisation diagram (Fig. 2) to reduce the internal material streams. The same applies to the incoming and outgoing material streams, as well as the necessary fuel resources for the recycling process; electricity, burning wood, water, etc. The workshops are designed according to the semi-temporary construction module, which will be explained later on.


4. Addition

Besides the creation of an economic platform, there is also a need for to implement social and hygienic improvements to the exterior of the Grande Hotel. The existing church and mosque are centrally placed in the master plan. The church is relocated above the existing swimming pool. The polluted water is covered by garbage and concrete. The remaining pit is transformed into a stage and is covered by a roofing structure, which makes it a central gathering place like the ‘oupale’ in the kraal concept (see the Social Conditions paragraphs on the Research page of the site). The central gathering place could be used for small or large community meetings, church services, but also for markets. The mosque, however, is not moveable for religious reasons. The existing mosque building is integrated into the new context by adding a new floor for a prayer room for women and a veranda to express the communal character of the building. In the removed section of block B of the existing Grande Hotel building is transformed into a permanent market hall. Here entrepreneurs can establish their businesses to sell food, drinks, household goods, airtime and other goods which could be attractive to sell to the consumers and Grande Hotel inhabitants. To provide a proper alternative to the swimming pool as well as to solve other hygienic problems, there are three latrine units implemented (the blue icons in Fig. 6). The units are situated between each block of the existing Grande Hotel building and are directly connected to each floor. The latrine unites facilitates: sanitation, bathing, water taps, laundry places and garbage collection. It also serves to protect the semi-entrances of the Grande Hotel building to the public area of the Mercado de Reciclagem and generates a communal gathering place for the Grande Hotel community itself. All these constructions are based on the semi-temporary construction module.

Fig. 7: Master plan of Mercado de Reciclagem


The semi-temporary construction module

The workshops and the additional constructions of the Mercado de Reciclagem are based on the semi-temporary construction module. It applies low-tech and locally applied construction materials and techniques so that the unskilled Grande Hotel inhabitants are able to build, adjust, replace and rebuild the various constructions. The module gives the Grande Hotel inhabitants self-control allowing them to arrange their living environment to meet their owns needs and desires, not only at a single point in time but also in future perspective. The ‘bottom-up’ approach of the design is inspired by the ideology of ‘Open Building’ of John Habraken. The semi-temporary module system is based on a grid of 3.50 by 3.50 metres, which can be fit-in into the existing floor plans of the Grande Hotel building.

The workshops consist of a constructive base frame of prefabricated concrete elements that are connected with reinforced in-situ concrete. This makes it resistant to cyclones that are rare in Beira. Each workshop can be extended by means of wooden frame elements construction to a floor plan that suits to the specific needs of the workshop. The dwelling on top of the concrete main frame is also made of a wood frame but it is more restricted to basic rules to sustain a proper internal climate. Each dwelling has an up-wind wedge roof which needs to be orientated in the average dominant north-eastern wind direction. This secures the exhaust of hot air and fire smoke and the supply of fresh air though under-pressure. The secondary outer roof provides insolation. The roof structure does not gives convection warmth to the interior though the 1.80 metres open air buffer between both roofs. The overhang of the secondary roof prevents direct sunlight falling on the inner-roof. Another beneficial property of this particular roof shape is the rainwater collection. The lowest point of the roof is drained to a water tank. Each workshop has a private water-tank with a minimum capacity of 5,000 litres. The capacity will be sufficient for a household of five persons to be able to rely only on the rainwater collection throughout the year. The shape of the roof forces the owner to situate the water-tank on the shaded southern side of the workshop.

The internal organisation of the dwelling is based on the outcomes of the research concerning the daily use of the current Grande Hotel inhabitants (see The Daily Use paragraphs on the Research page of the site). The first floor is a large living space which could be adapted to a range of household activities. The central sitting area is situated around a concrete fire place. The smoke exhaust is via the natural ventilation and under pressure. The smoke is used to prevent malaria mosquito’s entering the dwelling. The sleeping area is situated on the second floor. The none-separation of the sleeping place from the living place is a major principle that clashes with the architecture of the hotel room-dwelling in de Grande Hotel and its current habitation (see The Daily Use paragraphs on the Research page of the site). The height difference separates the sleeping area from the living area in the workshop, although it benefits from the smoke exhaust as malaria prevention.

The flexibility of the module is also represented in the façades. The façade of each workshop could be composed of various types of different façade elements. Because of the fixed dimensions of the constructive elements can be every façade element placed at every side. In the elaborated design, it is suggested that the stabilisation walls should be made of decorative cement blocks. The closed walls have a plastered surface and are filled with none-biodegradable garbage that creates a lightweight wall that is cheap because of the local material use and it does not absorb as much warmth as conventional walls used for local shelter constructions. On the ground floor are the open able façades made of grates of wood and a steel frame. The grates are open able by the bascule technique of a balanced self-weight. When the grates are opened, they will reduce the barrier between the internal and external working area to a minimum. This will generate direct contact between the public street and the working area, which will also lead to better mutual social integration.

                       Fig. 8: Structure of a workshop according the semi-temporary construction module



The Mercado de Reciclagem is a socioeconomic platform that will provide solutions for to improve the miserable living conditions of the Grande Hotel. It will generate a durable income, social integration, hygienic and environmental improvements. It will not only bring prosperity to the Grande Hotel but it will also complement to the socioeconomic and environmental development of the city of Beira. The architecture of the semi-temporary construction module introduces self-control for the Grande Hotel inhabitants for to arrange their living environment to suit their own needs and desires. Not only in a single point in time but also in the future the module can be adjusted, replaced and rebuilt. It consists of low-tech and local applied construction materials and techniques that are mastered by unskilled labour. The design focussed on the implementation of the semi-temporary construction module on the exterior of the existing Grande Hotel building while the module could also be internally implemented. This was not directly in the design scope of the project, but indirectly is it possible that due to the increased wealth of the Grande Hotel inhabitants they will be able to realise it by themselves. The ‘Open Building’ concept will make the inhabitants be able to adapt the foreign modern architecture building and transform it to their own needs and desires. The ‘bottom-up’ approach of the construction module provides a fixed overall frame which secures a general order to provide a healthy built environment but gives the inhabitants the control to adjust their living environment to their specific needs and desires.

     Fig. 9: Impression of metal workshop, front side                                               Fig. 10: Impression of metal workshop, back side