WASTE­LAND TO WON­DER­LAND

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - PROPERTY - (Sources: www.arch­daily.com; https://ur­ban­next.net; www.tree­hug­ger.com) By Vit­to­ria Lou Mawis @INQ_Prop­erty

Trash dis­posal has been a per­sis­tent prob­lem in many so­ci­eties. And as world pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow, more waste is be­ing pro­duced over time.

Nowa­days, the world is gen­er­at­ing too much trash for land­fills to hold. In an ef­fort to min­i­mize ma­te­rial waste, we are be­ing en­cour­aged to re­cy­cle.

The idea of re­use, how­ever, has yet to be­come preva­lent in the world of mod­ern con­struc­tion.

For some Dan­ish de­sign­ers, it’s not about merely reusing ob­jects. For them, to cre­ate ar­chi­tec­ture that saves the world, it’s all about up­cy­cling.

Waste in the spot­light

What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween re­cy­cling and up­cy­cling? The two both aim to ease en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, but do it through dif­fer­ent means.

Dan­ish firm Lendager Ar­chi­tects ex­plains: “Up­cy­cling is a step be­yond re­cy­cling. The ma­te­ri­als are not just reused, but reused in a way where value and qual­ity are added.”

Whereas re­cy­cling means reusing ship­ping con­tain­ers, up­cy­cling in­volves trans­form­ing them into some­thing else—shops, of­fices, or even homes. Up­cy­cling is reimag­in­ing and trans­form­ing an ob­ject into a re­pur­posed com­mod­ity.

Ear­lier this year, the Dan­ish Ar­chi­tec­ture Cen­tre in Copen­hagen, Den­mark held an ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tle “Waste­land.”

Cu­rated by the Lendager group, the ex­hibit pre­sented garbage as re­sources that can be used to cre­ate sus­tain­able build­ings. The ex­hibit fo­cused on six com­mon build­ing ma­te­ri­als that of­ten be­come waste—me­tal, glass, con­crete, wood, brick, and plas­tic.

The premise is that these build­ing ma­te­ri­als can be reused and re­pur­posed mul­ti­ple times ev­ery­where. In­stead of ex­tract­ing and ex­port­ing raw ma­te­ri­als, the ex­hibit en­cour­ages in­stead ways to in­te­grate re­pur­posed items into new build­ings.

The ex­hibit showed some re­mark­able ex­am­ples of re­cy­cling to a new level.

Wine corks were re-made into acous­tic floor­ing. News­pa­pers trans­formed into wall claddings. Bro­ken con­crete was reused to cre­ate new struc­tures. Re­pur­posed ma­te­ri­als were used to cre­ate a pro­to­type—the Up­cy­cle House.

As per the Lendager group, the house pro­duces 86 per­cent less car­bon emis­sions than reg­u­lar houses. It is also long-last­ing and mar­ket-com­pet­i­tive, mak­ing it suit­able for ur­ban fam­i­lies.

When trash be­comes posh

Re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als are of­ten as­so­ci­ated with low-cost con­struc­tion. The 2017 Salone de Mo­bile, how­ever, proved that re­pur­posed items can also be world-class.

Held last April in Mi­lan, Italy, the ex­po­si­tion brought to­gether the lat­est de­sign trends among Euro­pean and global brands. Some of the ex­hibitors dis­played up­cy­cled prod­ucts that looked bet­ter than some of their brand new coun­ter­parts.

One ex­hibitor show­cased sculp­tural seats made of re­cy­cled plas­tic. Another made benches out of fab­ric leftovers pressed into sheet boards.

Lastly, a com­pany sold vases made from re­jected glass.

A lot of ex­hibitors also showed how or­di­nary prod­ucts can be used to cre­ate new aes­thet­ics. One shop used plas­tic cups to dec­o­rate its façade win­dow. An ex­hibitor used old books to cover a wall and em­pha­size light­ing.

Another com­pany re­pur­posed wo­ven bas­kets into sus­pended lamp­shades.

Known for lux­u­ri­ous and high-end brands, it is re­fresh­ing to dis­cover that Italy also fea­tures re­pur­posed ma­te­ri­als in its ar­chi­tec­ture. The show­case of up­cy­cled prod­ucts in one of the world’s best de­sign fairs proves that there is much po­ten­tial in this move­ment.

Fu­ture of waste

Given the per­sis­tent prob­lem of garbage dis­posal, re­cy­cling and re­use have al­ways been pro­moted to ease the sit­u­a­tion. The prac­tice, how­ever, is no longer lim­ited to bud­get con­struc­tion and al­ter­na­tive build­ings.

As de­sign trends be­come more eco-friendly, the high-end mar­ket is learn­ing to em­brace the con­cept of sus­tain­abil­ity and up­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als as well.

In a world be­com­ing more aware of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, the at­ti­tude to­wards re-use is evolv­ing. Sus­tain­abil­ity is no longer an added or op­tional fea­ture, it is be­com­ing the norm.

Garbage is now be­com­ing a com­mod­ity for the cre­ative.

In the Philip­pines, where land­fills some­times over­flow, we may be look­ing at re­sources just wait­ing to be tapped. With our wealth of tal­ented ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers, many could prob­a­bly come up with dif­fer­ent ways waste can be trans­formed into some­thing of value.

Up­cy­cling could hold the key to solv­ing some of our worst ur­ban prob­lems. We may just need to open our minds and see things in a new light.

Old books used as dec­o­ra­tive wall cladding

Shower pipes are re-used as light fixtures.

Wo­ven bas­kets re­pur­posed as lamp shades

Shop store­front adored with plas­tic cups

Old build­ing parts can find new use in other struc­tures.

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