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Ecological design fundamentals: responsible materials and construction practices

CATEGORY: ⚐ EN + architecture + fundamentals + sustainability

What is Ecological Design? Resposible Materials and Contruction Practices
When constructing, In order to encourage stability of environmental and cultural systems that are already in place,  ecological design should utilize the skills and resources available in the nearby areas. I wrote my last post about the necessity for buildings to be engineered so they may evolve in response to environmental changes. Today I will write about how, even more fundamentally, construction process should evolve in response to local contingencies and opportunities.

We can see examples of this practise in the last two examples of ecological design i´ve featured. The first, The Arup designed Druk white lotus school, used both traditional materials and traditional building methods. This supported the local economy, the local culture and avoided harmful environmental effects by limiting the distanace (and carbon-footprint) of material transport. With another take on responsible material usage,  Morphosis’ FLOAT house design for New Orleans, acknowledged poverty pressures in affected flood zones all over the world, by (using local labor) assembling the house on-site from pre-fabricated components with all required wall anchors, electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems pre-installed. The affordable housing was designed as easy-to-transport, easy-to assemble sections so that the design may be reapplied throughout the 9th ward, as well as be adapted to the needs of flood zones worldwide.

However, perhaps the best examples of ecological design-driven use of responsible material are the creations of the dutch 2012Architecten who have set themselves apart in the design world with their dedication to a permanent process of waste renewal by “superuse”. This concept of “superuse” not only focuses on the re-use of materials, but also includes a shift in thinking about the fundamentals of designing and Planning. “Superuse” requires architects to abandon the instinct to create with exact measures and instead design with rough estimates and crude material descriptions to best adapt to reusable materials opportunity.

2012Architecten´s in 2004 was constructed by 90% super-used waste materials.The shoe store displays its collection on the stacked windshields of old Audi 100s, a car model that is no longer in production. A recycled conveyor belt in the center of the store serves as a sort of treadmill for costumers to test out their potential shoe purchases. Even the hard wood floor has been created from salvaged waste-wood. Not only was material use improvised, but before construction, the only design plan set in stone was the form of the hard-wood chairs.

The store´s design evolved as it was built with available materials , taking an interesting circular shape due to the natural curves of the windshields.

But the project´s economic and social gains extend beyond the fact that materials and costs were saved. The decision to let reusable material availability lead design processes produced the one-of-a kind design that sets Duchi shoe shop apart from it´s competitors and attracts customers.

This example of ecological design demonstrates how responsibly focused creativity that sustainably integrates new developments into existing ones often double to increase property attraction. 2012Architecten launched a superuse website with Suite75 a few years ago. This website serves as an online meeting place for architects and designers to share their reuse of materials to create new subjects and highlights design projects like beer bottle tables, chairs made of abandoned radiators and bookshelves made from the reconfiguration of second-hand wood crates.

(images curtacy of

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Comments (4)

[…] were recently featured in my ecological design fundamentals post for their ¨superuse¨ of building materials. Rather than an afterthought,  material usage plays a […]

[…] in order to adapt reusable materials to opportunity. In the past they have even turned discarded window shields to sneaker shelves, used abandoned sinks for building walls, and transformed rotor blades into playground […]

[…] shoe store in Germany cleverly made of reused materials from the scrapyard. Read more HERE […]

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