Committee of architects and architectural assistants tackling construction industry waste
Part 1: 2012-2013 Part 2: 2017-2020
This collective of architectural professionals is unified by the ambition to eradicate waste from the construction industry. In 2019 the committee founded Re-Fabricate, a project inspired by the circular economy which asked participants to collaboratively develop products that reuse waste for construction.
Launching at the RIBA Sustainability Festival, the team recruited members, negotiated funding, generated an online presence, and organised and hosted a series of events and workshops for participants, mentors and the public. Between February and June 2020, six multi-skilled teams developed products and business proposals that enable reuse of an assigned waste material. The results ranged from WoWood, a biodegradable acoustic panel produced out of timber waste, to UPlastic, an incentivised plastic recycling app, and GlassPass, a glass-based passport system that records the material’s ‘DNA’ to ensure it can be sorted and reused effectively.
The success of Re-Fabricate has resulted in several commissioned talks and a feature on the RIBAJ website. On top of this, the above projects are all being taken forward and are looking for funding to become commercially available. The committee is now developing Re-Fabricate 2021 and looking to maximise its impact through education, wider industry collaboration and engaging regions outside London
Judge Jo Dimitri comments: ‘This is something fresh, innovative and new, tackling the issue of climate change. The group has taken a lead in the field that is original. Doing this as one person wouldn’t work. The method of creating sub teams was important in making it happen.’
‘I like that the team is pushing the boundaries of architectural practice using their skills,’ says Alex Ely. Klaus Bode, meanwhile, thinks the focus on materials is particularly strong as we move towards zero-carbon production.
What existing building or place would you most like to tackle?
Environmental practice does not apply to one specific typology. We need to transform design and construction methods for all buildings. Existing ones should be seen as ‘material banks’ to be carefully dismantled and reused once they reach the end of their functional lifespan. By structuring our industry around disassembly rather than demolition we can end the environmental exploitation of construction. Although we appreciate this raises many questions in relation to funding and procurement, it is a necessity if we are to combat the disastrous effect climate change is having on our planet. Our research is looking at developing a database of ‘waste materials’ available for reuse in construction.