This is the fifth of a series of interviews to our coworkers!

In this interview Lobo is going to talk to our coworker Marlene Jabouille, a Earthen Architect and coworker at Lobo Cowork!

Watch the video below (bloopers at the end)!

You can also read the interview below!

LOBO COWORK - Describe yourself and what you do.

MARLENE JABOUILLE - My name is Marlene. I’m an architect, dedicated to earthen architecture, which is about studying, understanding and utilising earth or mud, clay

as a building material and as an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way of living, and this is something that I’m really passionate about and it’s a huge honour to be able to work with a material that has been used at least since 8000 B.C. So, it’s a big technology and it’s a testimonial of our ancestors’ wisdom and their understanding of nature as a wholesome system.

LC - What’s the biggest challenge of your work?

MJ - There are several challenges but the main roots I would say it’s the fallacy of having modern architecture as a way for sustainable development and thinking that standardized solutions and materials will provide a correct answer for our needs and the prejudice surrounding earth and buildings, so, even up to these days between 30 and 50 percent

of the world population still live or have a daily contact with earth and buildings, in the form of houses, mosques and other religious buildings, cities.

We have low rise cities and we have cities with high rise buildings in the middle

of the desert. So, a lot of people still live in these places, but then we have two realities.

In rural areas, these buildings are being replaced by concrete buildings because they are

the “modern thing” and the way to go. They seem very innocuous; “you’re just replacing your mud house, your earth house with concrete”, but you’re jeopardizing not only the health because these are not healthy buildings, but in rural areas this compromises the economical system and the development system, local development,­ because it’s all about local materials, local craftsmanship and all these disappears, so that’s a huge problem.

And then, in terms of urban areas – which actually just represent about 3 percent of our land surface they take about 75 percent of our natural resources and again, there’s

the understanding that “concrete buildings are the way to go” and that those have carbon emissions that it’s just too much to be sustainable, and these days we believe that buildings that are concrete, steel, glass and that have some greenery hanging from the balconies

or some solar systems, some solar pannels (that are actually highly toxic and that are not recyclable), that those are sustainable.

So, how do we change this mindset? How do we say that this is not working?

The discussion is happening but it’s still about the wrong solutions, so, concrete for example is a dead material, it’s as dead as it can be. When you enter a house made of concrete,

it’s rotten already, while raw earth is alive and it’s breathing, so the buildings are healthy,

the air is cleaner, they have an amazing termal response; they addapt to the outside temperature; they have the lowest carbon emission. When well designed, it suppresses

the use of air conditioning; it can be used in almost all climates, and combined with other systems like timber, it can be used in cities with high rise buildings, but this is a discussion and a challenge like how to make this a solution, because in the end we are talking about mud and it’s “ok, let me show you a house made of mud” and that is complicated.

LC - Is this your dream job?

MJ - Yes! It’s definetely my dream path. I have very specific goals and things that I want

to accomplish. I’m not there yet but I’m on a very dreamy path.

LC- How did you start working in this area and why?

MJ - By coincidence and in a completely unexpected way, like every great love story, starts like that! I was working is a restoration project in Germany; we were working in a huge house in need of several types of work, in timber, surface restoration. The structure was wood

and it had earth in fills. We were plastering the walls with clay, so I ended up on that task, plastering the walls, which is giving the outer layers of coating and it was clay, so I entered this room all brownish, with a very specific scent, very unique, and the master, the craftsman told me “now you have to mix these things and start throwing it to the wall”, and it was my first experience touching the material and I fell in love immediately, so it was really love at first sight and I was lucky enough to be working with an amazing master. He had travelled the World, lived a very crazy life and he introduced me to the main architects that I had

to study in order to learn more about earth and architecture and the funny thing is that

from that very specific moment on, everything kind of fell into place.

I left that project and when I was in the airport I received this email, received out of nowhere about a course in Iran to learn about this city, all made of earth and the restoration

of the city, and I just went there and then I met people who told me about the earth and archictecture school in India. So, I went there and everything has just been falling into place.

LC - Why did you decide to work remotely?

MJ - Actually, I didn’t decide to work remotely. It’s a very thing of the circumstances, because this work is very present and tactile and I have to go project to project, but now

I’m kind of “stuck” here, so I had to find a plan B and other things because I cannot go

to projects at the moment, so I found this plan B and things to do remotely, but I didn’t choose, I had to deal with it.

LC - Why did you choose Portugal to live?

MJ - I could live in many places and I really love to travel and get to know new cultures

and new people. That’s a huge thing for me, but in the end Portugal is home and that’s

the place where I want to settle in someday, not for now. And, I think it doesn’t matter where you are in the World; at some point you just miss our little things, the sun, the light, the food, our way of feeling things, “Saudade”, so it’s a place to come back to.

LC - Why did you choose to work in a cowork?

MJ - I first started to focus in my theoretical research, my thesis, and it was right after a very traditional, normal job, so I felt like I needed the routine to leave the house and go to work, and it was like actually a good surprise to find out how much of in a way a creative hub this is, because you meet so many different people and different backgrounds and you get a lot of input on your work and you find out about different things, so it was nice to get that.

LC - Why Lobo Cowork?

MJ - Because Lobo is cute! It’s a lovely space where you feel at home and I was one

of the first coworkers, so it’s a joy to see it grow and to be part of the pack and it’s a labour

of love and that is very felt in the space itself!

Follow Marlene's amazing work!

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