Gallery: INTERVIEW: Architect and Author Alejandro Bahamon on ‘REMATERI...

Material reuse has been a wildly popular trend in sustainable architecture over the last decade. Using old materials and giving them a new life in a building not only keeps those materials from wasting away in a landfill, but also adds a considerable amount
 
Material reuse has been a wildly popular trend in sustainable architecture over the last decade. Using old materials and giving them a new life in a building not only keeps those materials from wasting away in a landfill, but also adds a considerable amount of character to the finished project. Architect Alejandro Bahamón and artist Maria Camila Sanjinés were fascinated by the use of waste in architecture and decided to document 33 projects from around the world that extensively utilize a wasted material in their new book, REMATERIAL From Waste to Architecture. We had a chance to catch up with Alejandro Bahamón about his latest work -- read on for our exclusive interview!

What is most impressive about the curated collection of material reuse architecture that Bahamón and Sanjinés found is the creativity. Peach pits are used as flooring, tire treads are used as roofing material, and plastic water tanks are used as light fixtures. The designers of these projects worked closely with the materials and created beautiful, organic buildings that certainly don’t look trashy, even if they are made from waste.

Now, this isn’t your typical architecture look-book with huge glossy photos — this is more of an idea book, full of diagrams, construction photos, and info on reclaiming processes, along with great photos of the final product. You’ll recognize a couple of the more famous material reuse projects like the Big Dig House or the Heineken Bottle that can be used as a building material, but for the most part the projects are relatively unknown and totally beautiful. We had a chance to speak with Alejandro Bahamón about his new book to get a little more insight into material reuse in architecture.

Inhabitat: What originally inspired you to write an architecture book about utilizing waste as a construction material?

Alejandro: We originally started researching recycling in architecture, and we realized that the reuse of structures goes back a very long time; roman structures converted into churches and then converted into libraries and so on. So we wanted to look for a new perspective in this field and that is how we came across some projects that reused materials for their construction. We decided to narrow down our research and focus on this topic.

Inhabitat: What are the main challenges associated with reusing waste?

Alejandro: Probably the most important challenge when recycling is to keep in mind that reusing the materials should not waste more energy (water for washing, transportation, heating, etc.) than using a new material. Another challenge would be to know as much as possible the properties of the materials in order to improve their functionality in their new use; this is a concept that some architects and designers call “super-use”.

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