A Revisioning of Construction Waste
Twenty-four sculptures made from low- carbon materials were displayed at the Beijing Low- carbon Sculpture Garden in Changping District, shedding inspiration for reusing construction waste.
Habatun is a small village in Machikou Town, Changping District. In October, Beijing First Low- carbon Sculpture Camp, themed “low- carbon, ecology, life and love,” was held in the village, attracting nationwide attention. The event displayed low- carbon sculpting works by 12 artists.
Zhang Baogui, chairman of the Public Art Committee of China-asia Economic Development Association and initiator of event, said, “Low-carbon Sculpture Camp is a new attempt to drive cultural innovation and environmental protection. Sculptures themed by environmental protection with construction waste as our raw materials to promote environmental protection and low carbon conceptions.”
What is the camp about? Is it possible to morph construction waste into useful resources? Baogui Stone Art Technology Company Limited in the village has the answers.
After starting work for the company, what unfolds is an entire range of sculptures in various shapes placed in a commodious and tidy courtyard. Ebtering the office building, one is greeted with a dazzling array of sculptures hung on the wall or laid on the ground. Its raw materials include marble, bronze, white marble and casting copper. Zhang Baogui is the president of Baogui Stone Art Technology Co., Ltd. He encouraged artists to create a new freehand style.” He considers that construction waste is a kind of resource, but in the wrong place. Once utilised in the right way, useless waste would be changed into useful resources.
For years, Zhang Baogui has been committed to R&D and applying low-carbon materials in construction. He now infuses this low-carbon environmental conception into sculpture and organises the Beijing First Low-carbon Sculpture Creation Camp with its pioneering work and endeavors. In response to the lowcarbon sculpture camp, Zhang has built a 2.67-hectare Beijing Low-carbon Sculpture Garden inside the company.
On the garden's lawn, 24 exquisite sculptures created by 12 sculptors are displayed. These works are all made from lowcarbon and environmental materials, which distinguishes from other sculptures.
The material uses the most traditional cement as an adhesive to function as a glue. Smashed solid construction waste like muck, spoil, rejected material and leftover mud is qualified for filling aggregate. With a great deal of smashed construction waste like stone powder and added stone ballast, this new material mixed by cement and construction waste naturally restricts shrinkage stress. Sculptures made from them don't crack easily.
Walking across the garden, operation workshops put up by steel frames and loud roars of machines can be seen and heard. Eyesight gets blinded by mist. This misty substance that pervades the air is created when machines incise and polish lowcarbon materials.
A vast stretch of white with threedimensional and curved configuration and waving internal texture glides into view.
Its external appearance looks like a stone and also like gypsum, while its gray internal content looks more like cement. This is the uncompleted work of a young artist.
Artist Zhao Yong graduated from Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts and he has his own views on the Low-carbon Sculpture Camp. His sculpture is 2.7 metres high, depicting of a cat in a windowsill where two perched sparrows are sculpted on its belly. This work is inspired by a common scene of cats preying on sparrows. Zhao said, “This low-carbon material can be sculpted into large works due to its property. I hope to see what my cat's bulk looks like when it's displayed on the grass. This would excite any artist.”
Sculptors connect themselves with the theme of this camp, which is only the first step of creation. Making 3D drafts also borders on a form of low-carbon environmental protection. Organisers will collect the 3D data of selected works from artists for 3D printing after scanning them one by one. Then artists need to communicate with the Baogui Stone Art Technology Co., Ltd. to decide what external effect their works will embody and corresponding creative ways. “By this time, we listen to Zhang's suggestions, because he's an expert on ‘low-carbon material' with a wealth of knowledge. For example, in pursuit of the effect like white marble, I will seek out his advice on how to realise it and which stone ballast and the specific mixture ratio are needed. Then, I will have workers doing more specific work.”
What follows is the scaling up of models. In other words, sculpture drafts are scaled up and made from foam material digitally. During this stage, artists who participate in the camp will engage in guiding and supervising this process to some extent.
What follows is making sculptures from low-carbon materials, perhaps the most timeconsuming stage. Obviously, Baogui Stone Art Technology Co., Ltd. is a “tower of strength” at this point. With professional equipment and materials, its workers turn dreams into reality, help artists objectify their conceptions and convey their original creation conception about “low-carbon, ecology, life and love.”
Having got a thorough knowledge of the colour, grain and texture of materials needed by artists, workers get to work. Rolling over, grouting, casting, and then smashing the mould...these procedures are done for surface processing.
Workshops of the plant are filled with various raw materials including all kinds of auxiliary ingredients in addition to “construction waste.” These ingredients, either in buckets or bags, are used to meet different demands with different mixture ratios.
It stands a chance that these low-carbon materials are taken for genuine ones. The more the journalist sees, the more surprised he or she is. How a diverse variety of forms these “lowcarbon materials” can be taken on! Bluestone, red sandstone, white marble, casting cooper, bronze, you name it. Just a walk around these workshops opens a world of sculpture materials before the naked eye. “This material abounds in possibilities in taking on forms,” artists said. However, they are not genuine, but made from new-type mixture materials with low-carbon and environmental “construction waste” as the raw materials. These materials can present many enchanting textures.
Added to these distinctive textures, the sculpture materials also differ from one another in colour and grain, which endows them with a strong expressive force.
Crimson, cyan, dark reddish purple, bronze, jade white...these different grains, patterns and lines of chips of bare stone ballast, stone powder and construction waste present a genuine, plain, natural and unexpectedly unique charm. Most importantly, these materials are not only pollution-free but also made from low-carbon and environmental energy-saving materials. This method not only reduces dependence on sculptures on genuine materials, but also helps to “change useless waste into useful raw materials” and better realise energy conservation and emission reductions. Art serves as a carrier, which speaks volume for their determination to practise a low-carbon and environment-friendly ecology civilization construction in a bid to build a green Beijing.
The start of surface processing indicates that creating sculptures has entered the final stage of later artistic processing.
“Without thorough knowledge of this material and its property, we need to maintain constant communication with the plant and its workers.” While it is inevitable for artists to go to workshops to familiarise themselves with every creative procedure and production link. “There is still a long break-in period for this new-type of materials and artistic expression.” When gaining new-type materials, artists, needless to say, would work on them personally, such as grinding, polishing, and particularly art processing later on. Many exquisite sculpture and processing work need them to be checked. It would depend more on their intuition, acumen and perseverance.
Zhou Jianhong from Sichuan University of Media and Communications is a postgraduate of Zhu Shangxi, a professor of the Urban Design School of China Central Academy of Fine Arts. As another producer of this lowcarbon sculpture camp, Mr. Zhou, who recently participated in a Russian sculpture camp, has rushed to the Beijing low-carbon sculpture camp. His sculpture work entitled “Light Music,” has completed rolling over and is in the surface processing stage. Zhou stands on his 3.8-metrehigh work in a roomy space and bends himself to meticulously polishing his work with a grinding machine in his hands. With nearly perfect polishing by artists, every straight line, curve and corner fades in little by little. The details speak louder for their craftsmanship.
In face of this new-type materials, Yang Jinhuan from Beijing Culture Space Sculpture Institute finds himself at a loss for words. His work “Butterfly Lovers” is a token of faithful love. In this work, he sculpted a pair of lovers snuggling together and soaring up, both with wings. a poetic charm permeates its physique, lines, lights and shadows. However, Yang is stumped when he created this about 6-metre-high sculpture. “This material is light yet fragile without strong ductility. My work might be blown away by strong winds.” It's seemingly no easy thing to make a 3.5-metrehigh themed sculpture that stands firm. “Either pivots or steel bars can reinforce it. Safety issue endures carelessness to the least extent.” Zhang has high expectations of this work with its unique design. As this work is made by his new-type low-carbon material, he also pays great attention to its safety and preservation
ability which matter a lot to buyers. Yang speaks his mind and hopes to create more works according to the property of this newtype material.
“By dint of the grain and colour of our works, joints can be avoided.” As new things keep coming up, it is inevitable to meet new problems. It fares likewise when artists make sculpture works from construction waste, during which they also benefit a lot.
Exquisite sculptures stand as a tribute to the superb craftsmanship of these artists and elicit a unique charm of tranquility, excitement, sweetness, magnificence, solemnity, nostalgia, philosophical approach, and passion.
Each participating artist created two works, which include “Dialogue,” “Hou” (“profoundness”), “Ring of Life,” “Life and Nothingness,” and “Cloud Impression.” The height of sculpture works made from concrete and low-carbon environmental materials is limited between three metres and six metres with their width no longer than six metres. These works are mainly in lump, linear and combined forms and can adopt abstract, concrete and other styles with innovation and diversification. All works of this low-carbon sculpture camp take on a diversified unification.
In this way, construction waste commonly seen in daily life is more than useless. By dint of its unique strength, it, no longer being waste, radiates a magical charm when artists create sculptures from it. “Changing construction waste into low-carbon materials reduces dependence of sculpture works on genuine materials. During the process, art serves as a carrier, which speaks volumes for artists determined to practise lowcarbon ideas.”
Born in 1950 in Beijing, Zhang Baogui later went to live and work in production teams in Shanxi Province and returned to Beijing in 1987. Since then, he has immersed himself in research and creation of stone art. The span of 30 years has passed in a flash and Zhang, the man with romantic soul and artistic dreams in the eyes of other artists, has gained striking achievements along the way. As the fruit of Zhang's painstaking labour over the past several years, low-carbon materials together with production methods of stone art is the owner of several national patents and widely used in constructions. Zhang Baogui and his team have created nearly 1,000 pieces of works for hundreds of famous projects, including those with dropped ceilings for the National Museum of China, Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Beijing International Convention Center and the music hall of National Centre for the Performing Arts.
Such construction projects enable Zhang to “eat his corn in the blade,” and investing in art, advocating environmental protection and most importantly, invest in the LowCarbon Sculpture Camp. According to him, this Low-carbon Sculpture Camp provides an opportunity for artists to create and research the language of sculpture under the principle of low-carbon. Through this camp, they can play to the fullest extent their subjective initiative, imagination and creativity. Academic seminars on sculptures with low-carbon materials as well as classes for researching and studying such sculptures will be held during the first “Low-carbon Sculpture Camp,” where artists experiment to explore expression of low-carbon language in sculptures. When demonstrating the concept of sculptures, artists will also represent essential features of the language of low-carbon materials. The experience and achievements gained in this process will inspire the coming of “the new era of low-carbon materials.” Therein lies its academic value.
According to Zhu Shangxi, low carbon marks a kind of lifestyle as well as responsibility for environmental protection and sustainable development. As for artists, the concept of low carbon adopts a kind of attitude for art. Undoubtedly, the first Low-carbon Sculpture Camp is of striking significance since it takes initiative to apply low-carbon materials in sculptures and thus starts a new era of doing so.
Works of this Low-carbon Sculpture Camp will meet with the public in Beijing and around China in this fruitful autumn October. Starting from here, we will move headstrong determination. In succession with the first camp, we are poised to hold other camps, bringing them to the whole country and countries outside the border. Zhang Baogui said with confidence, longing for a brighter future.
A low-carbon lifestyle marks the general trend of the day. In 2017, 12 sculptors made sculptures with industrial waste and lowcarbon materials in a small village of Beijing. This feat brings us foreseeable prospects.
Various sculptures made from construction waste
An artist concentrates on sculpting.
Beijing Low-carbon Sculpture Garden