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Zero waste construction and design - can it be done? It can be done!

29 of May '20

The idea of zero waste and recycling has already become a global principle, not just a popular trend. The world produces more than 11 billion tons of garbage every year - that's more than our planet can hold, and we don't have another Earth! Environmental and ecological awareness are forcing a change in approach in many industries, and modern technologies allow innovative projects to be created according to the 3R principle - reduce, reuse, recycle.

The loud pro-environmental sentiment is not only about acquiring renewable energy sources or segregating garbage - although these are necessary actions for the economy. In today's world full of opportunities, we go further and look deeper! As stated by Wojciech Kuśpik, Chairman of the Board of the PTWP Group, the trends of zero and less waste in architecture and construction are an auspicious future and a huge prospect. Sustainable and planet-responsible design is a fashionable choice, and customer-conscious designers are surprising us with their ingenuity for reclaiming used materials and producing new, natural ones.

ways of eco-friendly architecture

The green trend in construction can be used in several ways. The principles of zero waste and less waste are production activities, reducing significantly or to an absolute minimum the impact on the environment. We don't want unnecessary waste, harmful materials and pollution, and instead look for solutions that are biodegradable, nature-friendly and have an extended life cycle. Another desirable activity in which architects can give vent to their creativity is new life, i.e. giving a second life to products already created, from decorative elements to old furniture or even entire buildings (see our article "Brick house from Wrzeszcz Architects. New life for an old barn").

And what about landfills? Despite their bad reputation, they are a source of numerous "treasures" that can be reused! There are so many of them that you could build an entire city out of recycled plastic, plastic or glass in a friendly and aesthetically pleasing way. Don't believe it? See for yourself the initiatives taken.

is it possible to build a zero waste house?

The answer to this question is the project of a resident of a Belarusian village near Minsk. Oleg Prakorina built his house entirely from garbage! Although the work took him 20 years, the result is electrifying.

Projekt: Oleg

Project: Oleg Prakorina

The artist obtained the building material completely for free, thanks to the involvement of the local community. He received unneeded stones found in the fields from farmers, and people brought him garbage and any waste he could use in the construction. Work on the house was completed in 2017, and the resulting structure is fully equipped and functional. Oleg Prakorina is making part of the building available to satisfy tourist curiosity, while convincing people that with minimal effort, maximum and useful results can be achieved. It's time to start being a zero-waste guy and use what we have readily available in designing architectural marvels.

Zero waste design, or BIO fashion.

Building an entire house out of waste at once is a wonderful undertaking, but one that undoubtedly requires time and dedication. On a daily basis, we can be amazed by the creativity of interior designers and architects who weave support for the eco spirit into their projects. The furniture and decor elements we have available on the market are no longer just "tools" for home use, but separate objects with their own unique style, past and history of creation. Today's customers want to consciously create their home, build arrangements that are thoughtful and unique. Today's architects want to respond to their needs, and thanks to recycling possibilities and a plethora of natural textiles, they are dedicatedly creating designer eco-masterpieces.

dishes from waste - a new dimension of useful art

American designer and artist Melanie Abrantes used cork and wood left over from her previous projects to create a series of Modern California dinnerware that is captivating in style as well as texture and form. The design of the collection, which includes vases, canisters, candle holders and wine coolers, was inspired by the colors and shape of the US west coast.

rojekt: Melanie
Abrantes, fot: Melanie Riccardi Projekt: Melanie Abrantes,
fot: Melanie Riccardi

Designed by Melanie Abrantes

Photo: Melanie Riccardi

Melanie juxtaposes the hard texture of wood with soft cork and colored glass, which she sourced from local second-hand stores, art workshops and trash. The perfectly matched form of the vessels is the result of laminating the materials, which the artist then carves on a wood lathe. Melanie wants to prove that even from seemingly unnecessary things one can create functional and modern everyday objects. For years she has been interested in the topics of ecology and zero waste, using the possibility of reworking materials to create small works of art. This is exemplified by the Modern California collection, whose individual pieces successfully combine the role of useful dishware and subtle home decoration. Think how beautiful such a vase would look on a dining table!

Projekt: Melanie
Abrantes, fot: Melanie Riccardi

Design: Melanie Abrantes

Photo: Melanie Riccardi

Scrap Life Project, or unusual stools

Recycled products attract not only by their usefulness and environmental responsibility, but also by their unique design. Abstract shapes and unusual juxtapositions provide opportunities to create a unique interior with a unique character. Lovers of modernity and surrealism will certainly appreciate the series of stools made by a group of German designers: Grisch Erbe and Moritz Jähde of the interdisciplinary design studio Spreng & Sonntag, and Clemens Lauer and Max Guderian of Studio Stabil.

Scrap Life Project,
fot. Michelle Mantel Scrap Life Project, fot.
Michelle Mantel

Scrap Life Project

photo by Michelle Mantel

What gives the furniture in the Scrap Life Project collection such unique form and depth of color? Would you believe waste? It's what recycled stools are made of, bringing a breath of innovation and ingenuity to the manufacturing industry. After all, the injection molding process that is popularly used creates a by-product. These are plastic waste, squeezed out of the machine when the color or type of plastic changes. Because of the mixed material, the unwanted fragments end up in factory trash garbage cans for the worst category of plastic with an expensive incineration process. The creators of the Scrap Life Project decided to face the challenge and give useless waste a second life!

Trashy pieces of plastic are heated and then pressed into a flat form. The plates thus created are the ideal building blocks for the seat, and by developing a process for the designers to press steel tubes into the underside of the plastic, we get a functional stool. Scrap metal comes to life, the environment gains, and the customer is assured that the item they are buying is one of a kind.

Scrap Life Project,
fot. Michelle Mantel

Scrap Life Project

photo by Michelle Mantel

Eco-friendly aluminum design? It's possible!

In our world of consumption, where companies fiercely compete for customers, pro-environmental measures are now a strong bargaining chip. Consumers' environmental awareness brings with it an increased need for sustainable design. BD Barcelona Design, among others, has understood this, commissioning Madrid-based designer Jorge Penadés to create a series of vases from recycled materials.

PISCES, fot.: Geray
Mena PISCES, fot.: Geray Mena


Photo: Geray Mena

The limited edition "Fish" collection consists of six corrugated vases with geometric structures and exposed joints. The objects were created from aluminum parts, spun by the creator from old lamps and shelves. Jorge Penadés cites the Mediterranean Sea, which he remembers from his family's fishing village in Andalusia, as a source of inspiration. The contrasting, heavily saturated colors of the vases are meant to reflect the coral reef fish he remembers from his youthful days playing on the beach.

PISCES, fot.: Eugeni


Photo: Eugeni Aguilo

To produce the design objects, Jose used a laser machine to cut aluminum profiles lengthwise, which he then modeled with thin double-sided tape and secured with glue. BD Barcelona Design took care of providing the materials disassembled from the discontinued products.

A new way to recycle: recycled leather furniture

Aluminum vases are not the only eco-friendly project by Jorge Penadés. Concerned about the amount of unnecessary material created in the automotive, shoe, fashion and furniture industries, he decided to use the waste to make furniture. Leather is a beautiful material, but very inefficient in the manufacturing process due to its natural origin. Penandés' curiosity and his less waste attitude led him to create an innovative method of combining frayed leather from waste using glue obtained from animal bone. Sound uninviting? For that, it looks interesting and attractive in the age of modern design!

SKIN, fot.: Brenda
Germade SKIN, fot.: Brenda Germade


Photo: Brenda Germade

The process of combining cuttings and shreds of leather has existed before, but resin was used for this purpose. Unfortunately, the overuse of this substance causes more harm to the environment than good. Jorge has changed the controversial ingredient to glue, which is obtained after the proper process of boiling bones from animal flesh in a bemar. When the water evaporates, a "stone" is obtained that, when crushed, reveals the desired glue.

SKIN, fot.: Brenda


photo: Brenda Germade

Penadés sweeps the collected leather scraps through a paper shredder, resulting in useful strips of material. After mixing with natural glue, she places the building blocks in iron molds, which she compresses and leaves to solidify. To enhance the composition and image of the furniture, the designer decided to expose the marble patterns shaped by the leather strips welded together, shaving the top layer. Meanwhile, to ensure the durability and flexibility of the material, Jorge uses shellac to finish his furniture and adds brass round plates to act as a tabletop or seat.

Soon it won't be leather gloves but furniture that will become a hit in the consumer market! Of course, only those created in accordance with the idea of architecture in the spirit of zero waste, which is full of possibilities. Penadés believes that the natural material he has composed from industrial waste is also the future for the production of floors, tiles and shoe soles. Time will judge.


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