Utilising Existing Building Materials and Recycling in Future Design

The environmental impact of architecture and design has come to the fore like never before over recent years. It is important to think about the impact that town planning and urban design has on the environment as a whole and as an industry it is vital that architects and designers begin to look at how we can change practices and principles to design and build in a way that helps the environment in future, rather than just adds to the existing levels of damage. One way in which things can change for the positive is to look at existing building materials and recycle them within future design and plans.

There has been a definite shift in the last couple of decades that has seen most of us become more aware of waste in everyday life. We are used to recycling paper, glass and some plastics, with different waste bins in public and at home, but why don’t we think about buildings and the materials used to construct them in a similar way? What is stopping us from recycling building materials or re-using buildings in a way that makes much more sense for the environment than scrapping a structure and building something from new, with brand-new materials?

Sustainability is a watch word that has real merit in the world of architecture and design and with an inventive slant, it can become a way of embedding sustainability not only in the process of design and construction, but also in achieving buildings that are energy efficient to a high standard. Not only this, but buildings can be designed to make it much easier for recycled waste to be collected, where building materials can be easily disassembled and re-used in the future if the building is no longer viable and is to be replaced.

Future buildings can be designed in a way that they can be viewed as merely a structure where future materials are deposited. When it comes time for that building’s use to change, there are useful materials present that can be used for the next structure on that site or taken away to be recycled and re-used on another project. This minimises waste drastically and ensures that the carbon footprint of a single building is much lower than it would usually be. If we can get to a position where most buildings are designed in this way, it is easy to see how this can have a massive impact on sustainability and the future of our planet.

Sustainable working practices have become a call to action within many architecture practices around the world, but with a slight shift in thinking this could work for buildings themselves, thinking about design and architecture in such an innovative way that the entire way that we think about architecture and urban planning in particular could change for the better of the planet. With careful disassembly of buildings and the re-use of materials this is possible in real terms, today, not just a high-minded idea for a possible future world.

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