Sustainable design pioneer in New Zealand to talk turning waste into wonders

The "blade made" playground in Wikad, Rotterdam, created by Dutch architecture firm Superuse Studios.
DENIS GUZZO/ SUPPLIED

The "blade made" playground in Wikad, Rotterdam, created by Dutch architecture firm Superuse Studios.

The old adage "one man's trash is another man's treasure" could be Dutch architect Jos de Krieger's motto.

When tasked with updating an old playground in the Netherlands, his Superuse Studios used retired wind turbine blades to make it happen.

De Krieger visited Wellington on Monday to discuss the ideas behind upcycling discarded materials and making old new again.

Superuse Studios created this villa with cable reels and steel beams from a textile factory machine.
ALLARD VAN DER HOEK/ SUPPLIED

Superuse Studios created this villa with cable reels and steel beams from a textile factory machine.

The concept of reusing or upcycling materials was not new, he said. "People do this everywhere."

When people undertake DIY projects at home, say to build a new shed, they will invariably use borrowed materials.

"They know a friend or an uncle that is demolishing something and they say, 'I can use this in my garden shed'."

Dutch architect Jos de Krieger from Superuse Studios.
SUPPLIED

Dutch architect Jos de Krieger from Superuse Studios.

The challenge is to apply this thinking to architectural design.

The benefit of reusing windows, wood, steel, cables and other salvaged materials from factories or buildings was "you are keeping the embodied energy as low as possible", de Krieger said.

In other words, you maximise your use of the object and the energy that was spent creating it. Legacy objects that are durable and may have a cultural significance become new again.

Superuse Studio applied this philosophy when it created an expansive Dutch villa using steel beams from an old textile machine.

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De Krieger said there was a missed opportunity in Christchurch, where 8000 houses were demolished and the rubble sent to the tip.

"It is such a pity that these materials were not recognised as high quality. There was a lot of potential.

"A lot of it was high-quality inland woods ... woods that you can't get any more, that now has just been taken to landfill."

De Krieger is involved in harvestmap.org, a global database of woods, metals, textiles and other found materials for designers.

De Krieger was brought to New Zealand by Te Putahi, a Christchurch centre for architecture and city-making.

"Designing architecture and urban projects from waste streams has clear environmental benefits," Te Putahi co-director Jessica Halliday said.

"But it also unlocks latent economic benefits, as it returns these 'waste' materials to productive use."

 - Stuff

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