Waste Design Strategies

Waste Design Strategies

We can think about designing "with waste" through some general strategies that describe the eventual construction of shape through matter that is not wanted any more for the purpose it was meant to exist. Design out of waste thus means either reinventing ways of re-appropriating objects or using a mass of unused objects in order to create a particular unified but multiple mass that we could call a mixed "material". These two different strategies produce two different types of productivity through waste. The first productivity needs the transformation of an object or of a construction to another mechanism. It needs the specific object for some of its particular characteristics that can swift the rational of a "find in the waste" into a different rational. A change in the ruling concept of the object is then proposed. In this waste design strategy, the architect is first called to act as an archeologist of waste. The architect finds a piece in the waste because this particular piece can be transformed to something needed, for a reason that has no obvious relation to the object itself. This transformation technique reestablishes objects or constructions in a new displaced order. The second productivity of recycling waste implies mass strategies: a type of selection is also needed here. Nevertheless, in this second strategy the particularity of the waste is not very important. We recycle cartons in order to create new recycled paper but it is difficult to record the existence of the carton in the paper. The same goes for the demolition and excavation waste: it can be used as a particular new construction matter with some particular characteristics. The first and the second productivity that we report have a particular common ground. We can describe this ground through the productions that come out of it through a particular Negative design.

Negative places / We can argue that the reinterpretation of a find is a positive reconstruction of it. We reorganize a strategy for an object while we re-invent a possible re-constitution of it. In the second productive mode the object was deluded in a volume of mixed recycled mass.

How an architecture can be thought in this frame? Architecture will either be condensed in a operation concerning the object or it will occur as a creation of empty spaces in a recycled mass. A complex attitude that uses recycled objects in order to create such voids in the mixed material mass could be named negative design. It is supposed to create negative places out of the use of tanks, kegs and other preexisting structures that can permit the creation of vacant places. In a smaller scale, plain volumes can be used in order to give form to "furniture" designed negatively.

From object to project / The waste is either an object or a mass where nothing inside it can be determined as an object. A part of a brick, in this case, is not considered as an object. A part of a broken sink would not be an object neither. However a sink and a water tub are still found objects for an archeologist of waste. In first place we need this archeological approach. A classification of the waste is needed. Not only to identify some objects that will be glorified as such through a particular transformation of themselves, while we consider them as isolated pieces. We can make complex surfaces out of used sinks, grids, water tubs. An archeology of waste will have to reconstruct the concept of what we use to name a built surface in order to operate as a practical archeology. We need a systematic detection of waste but this detection can be done only after a programmatic approach through which some possible uses of homogeneous material are pre-organized.

The expansion of the designed model can create repeated in a parallel or in a serial rational big office ensembles. The environment floor may be used in order to organize through a similar logic a public space.

The negative design / For this exploration this proposal gives an example. One task here is already explained and set: the design strategy is oriented towards finding uses for preexisting big tanks. Big metallic or concrete tanks are sometime strong enough (or can be reenforced) to secure a negative space that could be created inside a mass of waste. In order to create such a negative way of creating space we need to identify categories of tanks that can be used for this purpose and ways for piling the mater into specific chosen forms.

Positive Tank - Negative Keg / The proposed building can be used as a particular office complex. It is constituted by 3 different distinct volumes: the first is a scaffold designed as a staircase and corridor structure that is linked to the second volume through some light bridges. The second volume negotiates the idea of negative design in the particular case of an installation that receives in its interior old used kegs. The third is a proposed structure that could be named floating garden and may be seen as another tactic for reuse of tanks, stabilizing them through strong and thin titanium beams and columns in order to create a vertical garden.

There are 2 strategies adopted for the realization of the project in a conceptual level; the first one can be called a "platform" strategy and the second one is the well known strategy of collage.

By "platform" strategy we mean: the material mass has to be transformed in a hospitable platform, to a system of receiving. We can imagine the inhabitation of the waste if we think a particular "making space in the waste" and what this would mean. The waste has to leave some regulated space in order that it leaves empty hospitable places. The idea is that we could merely start thinking as if we already had to live inside the waste. Waste has to become a formable mass, this could become the most important technology of tomorrow. We will have to develop an architecture of shaping unshaped masses of waste. The concept of wall has to be revisited. We will have to think about new enveloping structures that isolate and structure a construction while they receive the maximum of waste. In the past the city Walls were thought in a similar way: 2 thin exterior walls were forming a receptacle for ground and waste in order to construct the most efficient resistance to chocks. We would maybe have to reorganize areas of cities with this premise: they need more space to develop than normal constructions but, in the same time, they can propose better conditions for living or working, they can create sparse, luxury places or sometimes bizarre, interesting spaces. Speaking of a strategy we do not enter till now to the function of a platform. A platform sets rules for a reception of uses. It can be useful in many ways.

Let's first consider this type of "building"; an accumulated mass is set up in order to accept a typical, ordinarily installed in typical disposition, recycled element such as a used keg coming from an old vehicle, a wagon or a factory. The building type is set without any strong determination for its use. A strange skin presupposes for its existence the technology of a "receptacle" of this matter. Stabilizing the kegs in the predetermined places and filling the prismatic volume with construction weight are the two necessary steps for this procedure. The final surface of the construction can be decided afterwards and can easily be replaced.

The collage strategy refers to a mechanism of stitching different categories of things. A keg, a pile of waste and an office are three conceptual entities that we are not used to see together. Their coexistence seeks a poetic tradition coming down to Apolinaire. Pasting kegs into a mass of waste is an architectonic oxymoron that intends to be read as such. A certain mnemonic reconstitution is operated here that is maybe identified to a voluntary architectonic amnesia.


In collaboration with Katerina Koutsogianni, 2010