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upcycling: The Latest Architecture and News

Returning the Building to the Soil: an Interview with the Architect and Scientist Mae-Ling Lokko

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Photo: © Courtney Sofiah Yates

Agriculture and the food industry seem to have little in common with architecture, but it is precisely the overlap of these three areas that interests Ghanaian-Filipino scientist and architect Mae-ling Lokko. Working with recycling agricultural waste and biopolymer materials, Lokko searches for ways to transform the so-called agrowaste into building materials.

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Winners Announced for a School Made from Recycled Plastic in Mexico

Archstorming, an architectural platform that organizes international competitions, has released the results for the Tulum Plastic School contest. In fact, participants were challenged to design a school made of recycled plastic, tackling the current issue of pollution in Mexico.

The Paris Researcher Pioneering a New Way to Recycle Building Materials

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The Paris-based designer and researcher Anna Saint Pierre is rethinking architectural preservation through her Granito project, which was awarded the Best Conscious Design prize at this year’s WantedDesign Brooklyn.. Image © Anna Saint Pierre/Rimasùu

Anna Saint Pierre's Granito project is harvesting the ingredients for new architectural building blocks from demolished structures.

Rapid urban change comes and goes without many even noticing it. Entire slices of a city’s history disappear overnight: What was once a wall of hewn stone is now fritted glass and buffed metal. The building site is always, first, a demolition site.

This is the thread that runs through Granito, a project by the young French designer and doctoral researcher Anna Saint Pierre. Developed in response to a late-20th-century Paris office block due for a major retrofit, one involving disassembly, it hinges on a method of material preservation Saint Pierre calls “in situ recycling.” Her proposal posits that harvesting the individual granite panels of the building’s somber gray facade could form the basis of a circular economy. “No longer in fashion,” this glum stone—all 182 tons of it—would be dislodged, pulverized, and sorted on-site, then incorporated into terrazzo flooring in the building update.

Upcycling Wood: Disused Materials Transformed Into Valuable And Useful Objects

The need to substantially reduce our impact on the planet must be translated into a significant change to our lifestyle and habits. One of these is to consume responsibly and consider that waste does not exist, but that all material can be transformed into something useful again following a circular ecological system.

In his book Upcycling Wood, Reutilización creativa de la madera, the architect and artist Bruno Sève writes and edits a non-exhaustive guide of the uses and possibilities of recovered wood, as a framework for responsible reuse; from small scale, such as furniture or artists' canvases, to medium scale, with its use in interiors and facades. This book seeks to raise awareness among professionals and citizens in general through analysis of the life cycle, examples of uses and finishing processes, leading to an ecological and responsible framework. The book is illustrated by numerous design and architecture teams who follow the guidelines of ecological design with reclaimed wood.

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Architectural Upcycling: 3 Materials That Turn Trash Into Low-Cost Construction Elements

This article was originally published by Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Architectural Upcycling Builds Earth’s Better Future Out of Trash."

Contemporary designers are recycling waste materials into useable and well-crafted objects, and it’s easy to get the impression that this burgeoning realm of fabrication is destined only for the craft fair. A quick survey of Blaine Brownell’s new guide Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Future turns up a half-dozen Etsy-ready art and furniture curios. There’s jewelry made from coffee grounds, bowls made from plastic bags, and a chair made from artichoke thistle fibers (the “Artichair”).

But these items don’t demonstrate the necessary capacity for heavy lifting and mass-market applicability for an age of climate change and dwindling resources. To grasp the kind of architectural upcycling that can divert trash from landfills and carbon from the atmosphere on a mass scale, it pays to step out of the design gallery and into the laboratory, where architects are inventing a new breed of modular building materials.

Lendager Group Unveils Plans for Permaculture Farming and Cabin Escape in Swedish Wilderness

Lendager Group have released drawings and renderings of Stedsans in the Woods, a farming development currently in progress in the deep Swedish wilderness. A collaboration with restaurant owners Mette Helbæk and Flemming Hansen, the project will feature a permaculture farm, restaurant, and lodging. A focus on sustainability and living off the landscape drives both the architecture and the Stedsans brand, who stress the idea of ‘giving more than we take.’ Located in Bohult, Sweden, the development offers visitors an escape from the city with opportunities for fresh dining and connecting with nature.

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