One man’s garbage is another man’s building material. A new trend in home and commercial building is the use of garbage in design. This is a quick intro to a new form of eco-design, how it’s done and what the benefits/drawbacks are.
Prime example: Brooklyn Industries, a hip clothing company, has used recycled and scrap materials to
build the interior of its new store in Chelsea New York.
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It is a foolish merchant who builds his store out of sand. A wise one will use garbage; it’s easier on the environment. By using reclaimed materials and scraps stores, more and more businesses are keeping their eye on the environment by designing brick and mortar shops with materials salvaged from the landfills.
Within one month Brooklyn Industries, a clothing store and Napapijiri, an adventure travel store, will open new branches that will incorporate previously used materials into their design.
Adding the fourth ‘R’ of repair into their environmental mantra, the designers of the Brooklyn Industries store in Chelsea used scraps of old wood, redesigned by the art group scrapile, to create the design of the new store. The store’s interior, including the furniture, clothes hangers and even the cash register, have been made with recycled materials and scrap wood.
"What we really tried to do was make a store that looked new and exciting but at the same time use as much recycled material as possible," said William Harvey, who helped oversee the store’s design.
The most difficult part in building a store out of recycled material is finding the necessary scraps, which is why supply stores like Urban Ore in Berkeley California have made a business model around
salvaging material from city dumps.
Someone trying to refurbish a building on recycled materials can
find everything from used cement blocks, tiles, insulation, plumbing
even wiring at Urban Ore’s three acre lot of usable garbage.
with only recycled supplies, however, requires a lot of patience while
waiting for the right bricks or tile to get thrown away, warned Mary
Lou Van Deventer, operations manager of Urban Ore.
"You need to shop around and accumulate what you need, if you can do
that then you’ll save huge quantities of money and you can minimize
your impact on the earth," she said.
final outcome is well worth it said Van Deventer, everything from
plumbing to wiring can be done using recycled goods and built to code.
Recycled materials, like old doors or tiles can also give a store extra
character, which is exactly what Brooklyn Industries wanted to do with
their L-shaped cash register, made completely from reused wood,
partially from Brooklyn Industriesâ?? own woodshop.
When brining in materials from another source, say an old farm
house, "you have created a story in that space, you have brought some
humanity into the design," said Alan Hedge a professor at Cornell’s school of Design and Environmental Analysis.
While incorporating reused materials is better for the environment
than using materials that went through the chemical process of
recycling, which requires some energy input, Hedge warns that some
materials are not always safe to be reused.
Doors from the early 60’s or 70’s might add a classic feel to the
store front and old plumbing might be cheap and a good use of
resources, but contractors should check paint and plumbing for lead.
"There are things you have to be careful about in these judgments,
if you are using things that are too old. Their performance could have
deteriorated, metals will corrode and bricks will become brittle," said
Being built out of 100 year old Manhattan building, Brooklyn
Industries hasn’t needed to build a complete infrastructure, but if
they open up another store outside of the city, building a store
completely out of recycled and reused material isn’t out of the
question said Vahap Avsar, the creative director of Brooklyn Industries.
"It’s an existing building, a landmark, so we are not able to change
the building that much, but we renovated it and tried to get the most
out of the elements we could control," said Avsar. "We will be
employing this concept in as many stores as possible and we are hoping
to improve each time," he continued.
There is also something to be gained in quality by using salvaged
materials. The old motto ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ holds
true with some building components like doors, trims or bricks made
from old clays, which are more robust than anything made today. In
fact, salvaging recluse building blocks is an older method of design
than one might think. Stones have been used and reused in Europe and
the Middle East for thousands of years to build and rebuild castles.
That ancient form of recycling was one based on necessity but
today’s burst of eco-architects have a different inspiration. They
reuse materials in their sustainable designs because of a philosophical
approach to building, said Ken Anderson of Edge Architects.
"The reason you are doing this is because you are trying to reduce
the load on the earth of producing new materials and you are keeping
things out of the landfill," said Anderson.
(Digg the story here)