Using reclaimed materials in construction is a topic that’s near and dear for me. I practice what I preach here, both in our own home and in advising others on how to accomplish this. I even won an award for the best use of recycled materials in a construction project, so this article from Worldcrunch struck a chord for me.
“Recycling used materials can take a more traditional aspect, for economic reasons for instance. When she returned to Switzerland after working for ten years in Africa, architect Barbara Buser from Basel architectural firm In Situ, rebelled against the huge amounts of perfectly good construction materials thatwere being wasted.
“’It’s possible to build entire houses using recycled materials, their used aspect even adds charm to the structure.’ Buser knows that in Switzerland this is still a niche market, tied to economic aspects more than innovation.
“Only a few architects use this second-hand exchange or use recyclable objects. This is not because of legislation, because the same fire safety and security rules apply to new and used material, explains Thomas Muller from the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects. On the contrary, recycling is encouraged in Switzerland through specific construction standards.
“According to Muller, the reluctance of architects to work with reclaimed objects is the main reason why they are not used more widely. For architects, recycled materials causes artistic limitations, especially in the case of visible elements. And even though clients want to be alternative and innovative, are often hesitant of taking the actual step of building their homes with old materials.”
Fortunately, I’ve been able to design projects myself using reclaimed materials, but my experience is that Buser is right. The architects and designers are the gatekeepers in the field, and unless they’re on board with this type of recycling, it’s difficult to put these ideas into practice.
~Until next time . . .