Inhabitat: Do you think reusing materials is more economical than new materials or does it just depend on the project?
Alejandro: It definitely depends on the project. In some cases like Millegomme Cascoland in Cape Town, South Africa, the material was just there, the process was very simple and the costs in general were just a few hours of the community work. While in other cases, like the Pittsburgh Glass Center, the recycling of glass was probably more expensive than using new materials but the concept itself of the project asked for this recycling involved in the making.
Inhabitat: What was the most innovative material reuse you came across while writing the book?
Alejandro: More than innovative materials, we were impressed by innovating ideas of how to reuse. We are always surrounded by materials as “waste” but not all of us have the talent to see a new life in them. The floors made from Peach Pips in South Africa or the Penumbra Installation made of broken umbrellas is a perfect example of this.
Inhabitat: What materials are out there that are “no-brainers,” and should be used all the time?
Alejandro: Pallets are definitely one of the most basic, versatile and easy to reuse structures. The fact that they are used to ship food and medical supplies to emergency situations (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.) makes them an even more obvious construction material.