Mark Gorgolewski Resource Salvation The Architecture of Reuse
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Mark Gorgolewski Resource Salvation The Architecture of Reuse

The notion of using the site and surrounding area as the first place to look for resources is unfamiliar and foreign to most current designers. But in the past, and in some parts of the world even today, discarding materials was not an option, as new materials were expensive or not easily available, and innovation included working creatively with materials that had a past life.

In any urban society there is a massive stock of available materials from demolition and industrial waste that is currently discarded but has potential value. Although the infrastructure to locate and use these resources is currently lacking, some industry leaders are establishing design strategies, material recovery processes, construction management approaches and manufacturing systems to create innovative new ways of using them in the built environment.

This book explores the creative opportunities and practical aspects of this gradual move to a more circular way of thinking about material resources in the built environment. In particular, the focus is on reuse of materials and components, including both construction salvage and waste streams from other industries. In The Science of the Artificial, Herbert Simon describes design as ‘the process by which we devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones’.

If we wish to create a more ecologically based built environment, we need not only to design more sustainable buildings but, more fundamentally, to devise a system and infrastructure that will achieve this. This is what this book is working towards. Architecture is created from a fusion of concept and matter, what Louis Kahn called ‘the measurable and the unmeasurable’, and throughout history architecture has been shaped by a dialogue between ideas and materials.

Kieran and Timberlake in their book Refabricating Architecture state that ‘architecture requires control, deep control, not merely of the idea, but also of the stuff we use to give form to the idea’.4 Traditionally this has led to a fascination with the newest and most innovative materials, and the evolution in architectural history has a strong association with new technology. Today the vast majority of materials used to create the built environment are new and pristine, and our consumer culture leads us to assume that new is best.

At the same time, most materials are unrelated to place, and predominantly come from all over the world – aluminium may come from South America, steel from Russia, glass from China, timber from Canada and so on. Material and component selection is a vital part of architecture because it holds such potential to communicate meaning in our built environment. In the developed world today we do not normally conceive of buildings as being made from local, salvaged, pre‐used materials. 

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