Summer Islam is a founding director of Material Cultures, a not-for-profit organisation that in its own words ‘challenges the systems, technologies, processes, supply chains, regulations and materials that make up the construction industry with the aim of transforming the way we build’.
Currently, Summer has an installation in London’s Building Centre, along with her partners, Paloma Gormley and George Massoud. Homegrown: Building a Post-Carbon Future is notable for the large straw and timber structure at its heart. The trio has also published a new pocket-sized book, Material Reform, that attempts to set out the way we should build in the future, examining the ‘technification’ of architecture, our reliance on extractive processes, and investigating how we should build with biomaterials.
It’s a fascinating, far reaching, read.
In this episode we talk about: the philosophy behind Material Cultures; the problems with the construction industry and why it needs to change; being a ‘reformist’ rather than a ‘revolutionary’; disagreeing with Norman Foster on concrete; how biomaterials can simplify the way we build; factories as places of experimentation; the importance of repair; architects’ ‘arrogant’ use of timber; why straw is vital to our future; and putting Material Cultures’ ideas into practice.
Find out more about Material Cultures