This event at HauteGREEN in New York was a big success, thanks to the thought-provoking design and insightful discussion from Dwell Editor-in-Chief Sam Grawe and designers Carlos Salgado of Scrapile, Tejo Remy of Droog fame, and Matt Gagnon. The conversation touched on a variety of issues surrounding the concepts and processes behind using reclaimed materials in different scales of design, and its implications for both environmental sustainability as well as more conceptual and cultural themes.
“Where most people only see waste, upcyclers see opportunity,” says Linda Bodo, the author of The Art of Upcycle. “Common day-to-day cast-offs are skillfully persuaded into a new function while still maintaining their previous character. Taking stewardship of our planet is a serious responsibility, but it can be done with a sense of humour.
The inspiration for this chair came from seeing one on a pier at Lake Tahoe. It’s big – seating two pretty comfortably – and tall, affording a nice view along with protection from cannonballs and wet dogs.
This one is made from lumber recycled from a redwood deck we ripped out. The weathering, stains and screw holes all add to character of the chair even after rigorous sanding on the seat, footrest, arms and back. With ‘free’ lumber, the cost for this chair was two boxes of screws, some glue and sand paper. (And in my case, a belt sander – but that’s an investment, right?)
“The Big Crunch” by Raumlabor is a recycled building made from a heap of discarded objects. The mound of materials is condensed in a theater plaza from all over the area, seemingly to move like a small wave cresting on the Georg-Büchner-Platz grounds in Darmstadt, Germany. Made from cast away household materials ranging from fridges to windows, furniture, and doors, the installation is a stormy, absurdist habitation.
South of downtown Seattle is an old Boeing airplane assembly plant that produced nearly 7000 Flying Fortresses while hidden beneath a roof with a fake suburban neighborhood on top. The site is now the source for a huge lumber salvage operation – Duluth Timber Company is now deconstructing the 1.7 million square foot facility and reclaiming the lumber for real homes. The beauty of reclaimed lumber is not just in its quality and size but in its history – and the 1/4 million board feet that will come out of this deconstruction has a lot of tales to tell.
Ten years from now the Emscher River in Germany, currently a canal between two dykes, will be returned to its natural state as a river. In celebration of the renaturification, the Dutch art group Observatorium built a habitable wooden bridge from reclaimed timbers to span the space where the river will eventually flow again. For the summer of 2010, Warten auf den Fluss was open to visitors and overnight guests so they could explore the area and experience the land that would soon be taken over by the river.
Centennial Woods reclaims wood from snow fences across Wyoming and sells the sustainable harvested wood for both interior and exterior applications. The wood is a stunning mixture of grays and browns in unique grain patterns that are characteristic of the windblown state of Wyoming. The company has repurposed more than 5 million feet of snow fence, saving snow fence owners more than $9 million and avoiding more than 9,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Unlike other reclaimed woods, Centennial Woods’ have never been painted or chemically treated, and are completely free of lead and other hazardous treatments common in older barns and other structures.
Most recently, the Y-town team’s upcycled home appliance prowess took a turn for the heartwarmingly cute when one of the designers transformed an old Bosch refrigerator turned on its side into a spacious shelter for an adorable stray pup named Chuichui. Chuichui’s new digs come with a carpeted entrance/exit ramp, a slanted roof, and distinct living areas including a roomy “bedroom” that the Y-town designers outfitted with a plush pooch cushion.
Slated for forced demolition, can the colossal Â Phonehenge West yet be saved?
Marvel at the work that goes into such decade-spanning, single-person construction projects, the authorities are not always as impressed – one man may learn this lesson the hard way.
This specific dilemma raises a more timeless question, however, for historic preservation: at what point does personal or public interest play a valid role in creating exceptions to rules? One man’s scrap heap is another man’s castle of trash, after all – and asking someone to demolish their abode is a rather big deal. It would be unfair to call the work a pile of unsafe junk – much of it is traditionally-framed and solidly-built, even if it does not conform to traditional typological norms.
Designed by Studio Hindia, the Smile Stool is made from scrap wood left over from local Balinese furniture maker studios and finished with coconut oil. Standing happy and always smiling, this bent wood stool is in fact a comment on the sad situation of the declining Indonesian furniture industry.
Shortly after 9/11, designer Ismael Quintero spotted a fire hydrant lid on the sidewalk that gave him the inspiration for this poetic Odyssey lamp. Made from recycled green beer bottles and embossed with the phrase “Nostri Lumen Est Una” which means “our light is one,” the lamp was designed to help people remember that tragic day while at the same time healing from it.
London West, UK – Eat your heart out Albert Steptoe: architects and clients alike are seeking discarded materials for their buildings, driven by environmental concerns, the recession and the look of it. But it’s more than cosmetic: if you want to use recycled stuff in your project you’ll have to start thinking differently about design.
When Martin Pawley wrote Garbage Housing in 1975 he thought of using all sorts of consumer waste, from car tyres and body parts, the Heineken World Bottle which stacked as a brick and newsprint cores. But there’s an easier way: use waste from the construction industry.
Material reuse has been a wildly popular trend in sustainable architecture over the last decade. Using old materials and giving them a new life in a building not only keeps those materials from wasting away in a landfill, but also adds a considerable amount of character to the finished project. Architect Alejandro Bahamón and artist Maria Camila Sanjinés were fascinated by the use of waste in architecture and decided to document 33 projects from around the world that extensively utilize a wasted material in their new book, REMATERIAL From Waste to Architecture. We had a chance to catch up with Alejandro Bahamón about his latest work — read on for our exclusive interview!
I just finished readingBottomFeeder: How to eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafoodby Taras Grescoe. I fancy myself well informed when it comes to oceanic issues and the health of the world’s oceans (focusing mostly on garbage gyres). But I was blown away by how much I didn’t know about the state of the world’s fish! Environmental reporting literature usually sends me into a spiral of species-hatred (my own), depression and finally lingering guilt. However, Grescoe has accomplished what other reporters have missed, which is to leave me feeling informed and eager to try out my newly uploaded knowledge about seafood. For example, I will eat more sardines, anchovies, mackerel and smaller mid-level zone fish. I will never touch another can of tuna, unless the world governments and fishing industry make some serious changes. That is not to say that BottomFeeder isn’t a powerful book full of stories that will depress you about both fish and people. But the information is balanced out by the notion that you can immediately address your impact – become a bottom feeder.
To celebrate my newly acquired knowledge, I present to you two artists work of garbage sculptures of fish, which I found on a great site calledRecycleart.org
Artists Hideaki Shibata and Kazuya Matsunaga came together in 2003 as Yodogawa Technique to create works from the rubbish and miscellaneous objects found along Osaka’s Yodogawa River. Working with discarded consumer goods and driftwood, the crafty duo made sculptural pieces that are like physical collages and that initially do not even appear as if they are made from garbage.
When it comes to green building, energy efficiency gets most of the attention. If reused building materials are discussed, it’s usually in context of de-construction, not re-construction using materials from demolished or remodeled homes.
The ReUse Haus on display at the AltBuild Expo running through Saturday in Santa Monica focuses on the reconstruction. The mini house, left, is meant to show that a recycled home “doesn’t have to look like a tree house,” said Ted Reiff, co-founder of the Oakland-based deconstruction firm the Reuse People.
In the mail today I found The Other Man’s Treasures waiting for me. T.O.M.T. is a studio located in New York. Reuse inspiration never came in a cooler package!
T.O.M.T.™ (or The Other Man’s Treasures) is the best friend for trashed or forgotten objects and anything else you might throw away or overlook in your garages, pantries and other storage spaces.
Because of this orientation, T.O.M.T.™ has been referred to as a recycling company on occasion.
Well … we see ourselves as more than that, and something altogether different. Beyond bags of bottles and cans, beyond the corrugated cardboard boxes tied with string, beyond the papers and organic waste bins, lies a whole world of objects that are discarded with no regard. We find these objects, considered too “difficult” to recycle, all over this great city of Gotham. Our vigilante mission has been to recover and reassign the purpose of these objects. T.O.M.T.™ is our abandoned-object Batcave, and the endeavor of refitting the planet™ is already underway. The key to saving these forgotten objects is just keeping our eyes open and being open and ready to spot what we like to call “objects of desire” – old appliances, tires, whatever! We at T.O.M.T.™ like to think that we’re giving old junk and ordinary objects a new lease on life. In fact, after they’ve gotten the T.O.M.T.™ treatment, these objects take center stage as useful, beautiful, “high-end” furnishings. “It’s time for some of this stuff to live in the limelight!” says Trice. “No object has been neglected too long, been tossed too far or is too ordinary to be a star.” We don’t promise to know what to do with every misplaced object out there in the world, but we do believe there is some purpose to everything. Nothing is truly garbage. That’s fundamental to our philosophy. viaAbout T.O.M.T..
T.O.M.T Refrigerator Door Dressing Mirror (one of my favorites!)
Reclamation Administration: News and Research on Building Material Waste Prevention