UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture
German architect Anna Heringer, born October 1977, grew up in Laufen, a small town at the Austrian-Bavarian border close to Salzburg. Ecology and developmental aid figured prominently in the daily discourse of the Heringers, and at the age of 19, Anna Heringer went to live in Bangladesh for almost a year, learnt Bengali, and got deeply involved in the local culture. She learnt about sustainable development work but also about construction and architecture and the value of using existing, local resources — a strategy that she still advocates many ears later. As an architect and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development, she focuses on the use of natural and readily available building materials.
Her diploma work, the METI School in Rudrapur got realised in 2005 in collaboration with Eike Roswag and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Over the years, Anna Heringer has realised projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe. She is presently working on projects in Ghana and a centre for sustainability in Germany.
Anna Heringer lectures worldwide at conferences, including TED in 2017, and has been visiting professor at various universities, including Harvard, ETH Zurich (with Martin Rauch), UP Madrid, TU Munich, and University of Arts in Linz.
She has received numerous honours: the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, the AR Emerging Architecture Awards in 2006 and 2008, the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s GSD, and a RIBA International Fellowship. Her work has been widely published and exhibited at MoMA New York, the V&A Museum in London, and at the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2016 und 2018, among other places.
For Anna Heringer, architecture is a tool to improve lives. In 2013, Anna Heringer initiated the Laufenmanifesto with Andres Lepik and Hubert Klumpner where practitioners and academics from around the world contributed to define guidelines for a humane design culture.
Together with Martin Rauch, she has developed the method of Clay Storming that she teaches at various universities, including ETH Zurich, UP Madrid, TU Munich and GSD/ Harvard.
“There are a lot of resources given by nature for free – all we need is our sensitivity to see them and our creativity to use them.”
— Anna Heringer
“The vision behind, and motivation for my work is to explore and use architecture as a medium to strengthen cultural and individual confidence, to support local economies and to foster the ecological balance. Joyful living is a creative and active process, and I am deeply interested in the sustainable development of our society and our built environment. For me, sustainability is a synonym for beauty: a building that is harmonious in its design, structure, technique, and use of materials, as well as with the location, the environment, the user, the socio-cultural context. This, for me, is what defines its sustainable and aesthetic value.”
— Anna Heringer
Interview with Anna Heringer (Sustainable beauty) in Orisu 76
Anna Heringer Obel Award winner