What happens when a building reaches the end of its lifecycle? Where does everything go? Illustrating this narrative is the central bar at IDS Vancouver, aptly named Restock, which is a proportionally accurate visual representation of materials potentially salvaged, recycled and designated for landfill from a standard 33’ by 122’ Vancouver lot.
By championing new approaches to recycling and reusing materials, the installation inspired a sea change for IDS. “Rather than just making an object, we hit a nerve about the environmental footprint of a tradeshow,” says Clinton Cuddington, principal of Measured Architecture. “This inspired a trend where our process could inform the entire show’s material footprint.”
The three partners involved in fabricating Restock – Measured Architecture, Unbuilders and Powers Construction – represent the pillars of the construction industry. “Together, we want to tell a story of hope,” says Cuddington. “The focus is on materials that could be saved but are currently recycled and downgraded. We want to create awareness about the advantages of unbuilding rather than demolition.”
The footprint of the bar represents an approximation of size of a typical residential site, and the materials are reflective of a single-family home anticipating demolition: 15 per cent of potentially reclaimed salvage material, represented by stacked materials; 80 to 85 per cent of recycled materials as mandated by the city; five per cent bound for the landfill.
“Most of my contemporaries working on residential homes are taking the demolition route because they assume it’s cheaper and less complicated,” says Cuddington. Unbuilders do things differently, and the company’s success can inspire others to transition to a more sustainable operation.
“A lot of materials available in a typical demolition have potential for reuse in new construction if the design community embraces the call and communicates to clients that the effort does not need to represent a premium to the project,” he says. There is currently no requirement for salvage by the city, but Cuddington suggests that an introduction of a combined provincial and federal tax credit could mean that a salvage approach would represent savings over current demolition costs.
The stacks of reclaimed materials at Restock illustrate this potential. “They are lent to us by Unbuilders and Habitat for Humanity, utilized without damage and returned to be used in building projects after the show,” he says. “Their journey will be documented through graphics affixed to the materials.”
In assessing different delivery models for projects, Measured Architecture makes environmental performance a key consideration. “We typically focus on low-hanging fruit, where we can deliver sustainable options that are equivalent from a labour and financial perspective,” says Cuddington. “When there is a strong collaboration between client, architect and builder, this sets up the context for great work to emerge.”
Take the impact of the Restock bar, for example. It has already resulted in Unbuilders gaining salvage rights for materials used at the show. To Cuddington, “this is an incredible outcome. When we demonstrate that innovation can be delivered without incurring a premium, that’s a catalyst for change.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.