‘using what exists, to create what is to be.’

Week One 02.03.21

Working Research question –

How can waste be used as sustainable material to transform a self-sufficient urban journey?

How can we reframe the perceived value of plastic waste and create an educational architectural proposition?

How to promote a sustainable way of looking at waste, change up the way we feel about Plastic and other less sustainable building materials?

Working Title –

‘betweenness of place’

‘the in-between of place’

‘waste to worth; the future

‘using what exists to create what is to be’

Precedents –


A type of passive solar earth shelter that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds.

Earthships are predicated upon the idea that there are six human needs that can be addressed through environmentally sustainable building design:

  1. Energy: Thermal and/or solar heating and cooling, solar and wind electricity
  2. Garbage management: Reuse and recycling built into construction and daily living
  3. Sewage treatment: Self-contained sewage treatment and water recycling
  4. Shelter: Building with natural and recycled materials
  5. Clean Water: Water harvesting and long term storage
  6. Food: In-home organic food production capability
Waikato, New Zealand https://offgridworld.com/discover-a-remarkable-earthship-home-in-new-zealand/

Earthship structures are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rainwater. They are designed with thermal mass construction and natural cross-ventilation to regulate indoor temperature, and the designs are intentionally uncomplicated and mainly single-story so that people with little building knowledge can construct them.

Useful Film: Garbage Warrior — Michael Reynold, 2007.

New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of “Earthship Biotecture” by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create living test sites incorporating the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability.


Biosphere 2

The scientific research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, U.S., designed to emulate Earth’s environment (Biosphere 1) that was perhaps best known for two missions conducted in the early 1990s in which crews were sealed inside the enclosure to study survivability. The driving force for these studies was to assess whether humans were capable of building and living in self-sustaining colonies in outer space.

Three-acre mini-world Biosphere 2, a $150(USD)-million futuristic facilityhttps://dartmouthalumnimagazine.com/articles/biosphere-2-what-really-happened

Urban Archipelago

A manifesto (1977) by Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas

“The City in the City — Berlin: A Green Archipelago” A systematic study into the possibilities for densification for the centre of Berlin.

In the manifesto Berlin: A Green Archipelago, Oswald Mathias Ungers and a number of his colleagues from Cornell University presented the first concepts and intellectual models for the shrinking city. In contrast to the reconstruction of the European city that was popular at the time, they developed the figure of a polycentric urban landscape.

It proclaimed Berlin to be an ‘empty city’ in the same way as an archipelago is a little land that looks like it is more than that.

Introductory texts explain the development of the manifesto between Cornell and Berlin, position the work in the planning history of Berlin, and reveal its influence on current approaches

Project ideas –

This thesis/research project will explore the concept of ‘place’. It will consider how to plan future communities and how they may need to live in order to address climate change. Shaping a new way of living to lessen our impact on the world is crucial if we want to protect our resources. So despite pockets of ‘archipelago like’ communities in society, that is, a fragmented community, socially, culturally and perhaps environmentally; ‘water’ could be the bridge and connect any divides. It could link the marginalised to the mainstream, the parts with the whole. Helping society to find their ‘place’ and work as one may well be the solution to lessen our impact.

A sense of ‘place’ will be explored by the study into the phenomena of the archipelago and the metaphor of what an ‘island’ can mean for architecture and urban planning and landscape design.

The Archipelago is a complex geographical system bound by water, but not necessarily separated by water. They are an ‘art form’ born out of natural scientific phenomena — formed when volcanoes erupt out of the ocean floor. They are made up of the individual but are also together. Bound but not stifled, the water separates but can connect. Its’ surface is connected. Water is like an urban conduit.

New Zealand itself is an archipelago and it has been argued that we tend to live firmly on our beautiful land, albeit often not too far from a coastline, but with eyes often cast outwards towards other islands and the ocean beyond. In order to lessen our impact on the global stage, construction-wise, we may well need to use what exists to create what is to be.’ By focussing on what we have, rather than what is out there, we may find contentment with what we already are and have.

Architectural Proposition:

Using the complexity of the archipelago shape and the art form these shapes bring possible cells or pods that will be designed to allow individuals or groups to dwell. This resulting collective exists as a whole……like an archipelago. An art form.

Space in-between would form common urban space, to be used by all. This common linking urban space would mimic the water slowly flowing through the collective (but not necessarily literally be water) and would allow the bringing together of the group to share resources and feel connected. eg amenities, waste, physical activity, hobbies

This collaboration could shape the future of how we as cities and urban dwellers will need to live. So how will the nature of our architecture evolve to allow this?

OBJECTIVE — To improve the sustainability of the architecture, building and construction industry.

GOAL — By reducing waste that currently ends up in landfill or worse waterways and oceans.

The project will involve the investigation of waste options and therefore the connection to elements in an architectural context. And thus the mixing of those elements into an architectural proposition that acts as a mechanism to educate and promote new waste utilisation methods.

Generic building materials clad and coat the bulk of buildings, however, this oughtn’t to apply to any or all buildings. Waste materials like scrap metals, plastics, rubber and other products are generated in substantial quantities each day. This project will explore the potential of adaptive re-use of an existing building using waste materials that are predominately sourced from local sites.

This research aims to determine a high level of transparency to assist in improving negative connotations around post-use plastics as ‘waste’.

The design will attempt to identify key stages of the reuse process through a sculptural type, exposing a network that is generally hidden and challenges the perception of how waste can disappear.

Acknowledging consumption is an important component of a functioning economy; it’s equally important that architects identify effective solutions to the waste consumption generates. This study seeks to identify an architectural response to New Zealand’s growing problem of plastic waste as environmental pollution will affect us all.

Overall, this research project will provide an example of how waste can be used as a sustainable material for an architectural proposition that’s ready to promote a sustainable way to approach the matter of waste.

Site Options:

Whakahau Island (Skipper Island)

East of the Coromandel Peninsula, 2.68 km²

Pakatoa Island

Waitemata Harbour, Hauraki, 0.2 km2

Motiti Island

Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, 10 km²

Motiti Island

Moturiki Island (Leisure Island)

Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, 0.025 km²

Whangateau Estuary (including Omaha Beach) coastal erosion site. Good area to base a hypothetical architectural solution to the problem?? 4 urgent areas in Auckland identified: The four coastal plan sites selected for phase one are: Whangateau Estuary and Omaha beach (Rodney); South Manukau Harbour (Franklin); Whangaparaoa Peninsula (Hibiscus and Bays) and Beachlands through to Matingahari (Franklin)



Design method –

See Advanced Design1 and Design 5 Projects https://medium.com/@cher204/material-research-ceedd881b254

Concept art for the representation of the circular economy. Nothing is perfect
Oil and coloured water represent the two groups and when they mix they create something really interesting but they do this by always remaining separate, maintaining their integrity and personalities. If they were to mix, the experience would become diluted and not as rewarding for either group.
  1. Re-using waste generated by the building and construction industry by salvaging it and making it available to use again. Eg:
  • Small amounts of left-over new materials from new builds (often impractical by themselves but if collected (could add-up to a more useful and valuable amount)
  • Larger amounts of used materials from demolition (often damaged by the demolition process)
  1. Use waste items such as post-use plastics, used car tyres etc. (generated by all industries) as a raw material to manufacture new products for use in architecture, building and construction industry Eg:
  • ‘FUTURE POST’ — rural fence posts made from used plastic bottles and bags
  • A new architectural product, Eg. Cladding, insulation etc. made from recycled material
  1. Look at how traditional plastic products used in the architecture, building and construction industry could be replaced with bioplastic Eg:
  • The building wraps encasing new builds and protects them from the weather.
  • A new architectural product, Eg. Cladding, insulation etc. made from bioplastic (prior Design 4, 5 & AD1 research).

Design Thinking

Methodology thinking in diverse ways and helping develop a whole pool of new ideas (divergent phase). Subsequently, it also helps identify the best ideas and focus on developing their advantages (convergent phase).

Design Thinking Process Chart http://sdt-karlsruhe.de/design-thinking/

Interesting quotes –

Quote from an article called: ‘Aotearoa’s archipelago: Re-imagining New Zealand’s island geographies’ from the New Zealand Geographer (2016) 72, 165–168.

“Aotearoa’s islands appear to loom larger in New Zealand art than in other elements of the national imagination. Painters frequently include their presence on canvasses as offshore anchor points. Memorable examples are McCahon’s inclusion of Oaia Island, off Muriwai; Don Binney’s iconic kereru in flight with a backdrop of Hauturu/Little Barrier;

Don Binney (1940–2012) n\Kaiarara Kaka, Great Barrier silkscreen

and Tapu te Ranga behind Rita Angus’ depiction of boats at Wellington’s Island Bay (Johnstone 2006). Notably, these three are uninhabited islands, as indeed are most elements of our archipelago.

Islands also pervade other forms of art — from the presence of Rangitoto in several of Frank Sargeson’s stories, through Dave Dobbyn’s self-identification in his 1998 CD The Islander to this issue’s contributor Gregory O’Brien’s recent collection Whale Years (O’Brien 2015). Why might influential New Zealand artists bring islands into their work?

Each will have its reasons but we suspect one answer is that islands are part of the way many of us frame our lives as New Zealanders: we dwell in what Entrikin (1991) calls the ‘betweenness of place’, on terra firma, but seldom far from the coast and islands that are between where we stand and the vastness of ocean beyond.”

Scene From Ready Player One

’Vertical archipelagos’ made with waste, kind of futuristic. Going up is a way to intensify urban living. To ‘solve’ urbanisation and reduce urban sprawl think about producing vertical archipelagos.

Using Archipelago-like structures as a solution to Coastal Erosion

(solves a Climate Change problem!!!!)

Archipelago structures built just offshore to assist with coastal erosion due to climate change and the rising sea levels. NZ has just declared a climate emergency like many other countries.

Reference: Habitat archipelago: A geo futurist proposal for architecture in the Anthropocene

Lapano, Jessica M. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2014. 1561948.

Breakwater building to protect the coastline from storm surges and the subsequent flooding whose risk is being worsened due to rising sea levels from global warming.

Art installation of beams of light to show how rising water levels will affect housing on the coast.

Auckland Beaches and Cliffs are susceptible to erosion and loss of homes. Onetangi Beach Waiheke.

Fifth-year Thesis student at The University of Auckland. Masters of Architecture (Prof)