Valentino Gareri Atelier has designed a village made using 3D printing and cacao waste for Ecuadorian chocolate manufacturer MUZE Cacao and nonprofit Avanti. This is the first of a planned global network of sustainable smart villages — a carbon-neutral circular economy for the cacao industry. The Cacao Eco Village is slated to be built in 2022 in Pedernales, a county in the coastal province of Manabi, Ecuador, where cacao farmers live.
“We have pushed the circular economy core principles so much that they informed the design philosophy of the entire project,” said designer Valentino Gareri. “The cacao waste, result of the chocolate production process, will be re-utilized for 3D printing parts of the village. Waste is not only turned into a resource, but into architecture.”
The sustainable architecture behind Cacao Eco Village focuses on five core principles: modular, functional, sustainable, tech-enabled and connected. This is no minimalist village of huts in the rainforest. The Eco Village will be a smart city.
The modular principle is explored through extendable, replicable and adaptable spaces. The village will house co-living and co-working spaces and operate as a cacao processing plant, chocolate factory and educational and research center. Designers also hope to turn the village into an eco-tourism destination.
The Eco Village is also self-sufficient through rainwater collection, solar power and natural ventilation. It will also incorporate local building materials such as bamboo, timber and 3D-printed structures formed of cacao shell waste biofilaments.
“In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to design buildings entirely made of natural materials and recycle them at the end of their life cycle in order either to create new ones, or to return them back to nature,” Gareri said.
How smart is this smart city? Eco Village is going for cutting edge with the use of blockchain, IoT (internet of things) tech integration, and NFTs.
Still, Eco Village aims to keep the style of the village and its culture true to historical community traditions. The buildings use local and natural materials, and facades draw inspiration from the multi-colored Ecuadorian houses and the colorful fruits of cacao trees. Water tanks for rain collection are integrated into the rooftops. The shape of the rooftops was inspired by Ecuadorian art patterns.
The Eco Village will also feature pedestrian/cyclist pathways and charging stations for electric vehicles. Cars and trucks are only allowed around the factory and production areas, making this a walkable and clean community.
Designers are using a circular economy model as a creative solution for reducing the environmental footprint of the cacao industry, while also generating income, reducing resource dependency and minimizing waste.
MUZE Cacao aims to create new ethical cacao-based products using the most out of the fruit (~80% is currently wasted). This will reduce waste and offset carbon while creating jobs for cacao farmers. The Village also hopes to be the Silicon Valley of circular economy innovators and attract inventors and testing facilities for AgTech, FinTech and FoodTech startups, manufacturers and researchers.
Images via Valentino Gareri Atelier