A straight forward definition of what it means to act sustainably triggered this design project that is: take what we need to live now without jeopardizing the potential for people in the future to meet their needs.
Construction materials demand a great deal from our natural resources. The rate at which the world is using raw materials, such as cement, steel and wood, is increasing globally and in New Zealand. The consequence of this process of manufacturing natural resources and turning them into construction materials causes significant pollution and energy use. I found that one of the possible ways to reduce the overall energy consumption and pollution is to look at the life span of construction materials. There is a one-way life cycle of most building materials in New Zealand, first they are extracted as raw materials, then manufactured into building materials, then used for a building, but once the building no longer serves a purpose, the building is demolished and the materials often end up in a landfill. This one-way life cycle has several consequences including filling landfills and triggering further natural resource extraction. I discovered through my research that construction and demolition waste is responsible for more than a quarter of the total waste in landfills in the world.
To address this problem my proposed building uses recycled construction materials. Through this proposal I aim to end the one-way life cycle of construction materials and turn it instead into a loop by adopting recycling and reuse methods. By adopting this proposal and using these building methods, it would reduce energy use by reducing the demand for new materials made from raw resources, it would reduce the waste in landfills by reusing and recycling construction materials, and ultimately it would save natural resources for future generations.
Christchurch will soon be in a major rebuilding process, but currently there is a great deal of demolition in progress. This proposal is very appropriate for this situation, where there is a massive amount of material waste created due to the on going demolition. Through this proposal I aim to show how recycled materials could be used in future buildings.
The program for the building is a recycling centre which includes education, administration and a recycling plant. The building is designed as a showcase for the use of material waste and aims to promote recycling materials.
A key driver for this project is to minimize impact on the environment through the proposed architecture. A range of demolished construction materials were used in this proposed building including concrete debris and recycled timber. The overall architectural response and experience is to expose and promote the many ways of recycling different materials.