Nov 22

LSA Alumnus Jack Banting published in FRAME

Nov 22

2022/23 Design Think Tank Module Launches

Nov 22

Mentoring can transform the architecture profession – for good

Nov 22

APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN FOR 2023/24

Nov 22

Alternative Routes To Registration: An Evening with ARB (17/11/2022)

Nov 22

Circular architecture needs material passports

Nov 22

Apply To The LSA: Online Intro (23/11/2022)

Nov 22

BOOK NOW! Part 2 Open Days (7/12/22-25/1/23)

Oct 22

LSA Registrar

Oct 22

Operations Manager

Oct 22

London School of Architecture announces strategic collaboration with Black in Architecture

Aug 22

LSA Summer Design Charrette

Jul 22

How fire has shaped London – from 1666 to Grenfell

Jul 22

Voices on: Architecture and Fire Safety

Jun 22

JOB OPPORTUNITY:  DESIGN TECTONICS TUTOR

Jun 22

JOB OPPORTUNITY:  DESIGN DIRECTION MODULE LEADER

Jun 22

JOB OPPORTUNITY:  DESIGN HISTORY TUTORS

Jun 22

JOB OPPORTUNITY: DESIGN STUDIO TUTORS

Jun 22

JOB OPPORTUNITY:  DESIGN CITIES MODULE LEADER

Jun 22

Voices on: Architecture and Displacement

May 22

Job Opening: Design Think Tank (DTT) Module Co-Leader — Apply by 20.06.2022

May 22

You’re invited to the LSA Summer Show 2022

Mar 22

LSA students shortlisted for London Festival of Architecture design competition

Feb 22

ELEVEN DESIGN THINK TANKS AIMING TO TRANSFORM THE CITY

Feb 22

LSA launches new bursary scheme for students from low-income backgrounds Copy

Feb 22

LSA announces Thomas Aquilina as inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation Fellow

Feb 22

LSA Tuesday Talks

Feb 22

Meet students, faculty and alumni at our Open Evening — 24.02.2022

Jan 22

Why Apply to the LSA? Thoughts from our Academic Director

Jan 22

Job Opening: Professional Events Co-ordinator — Apply by 18.03.2022

Dec 21

Will Tooze & Daniel Wood — Plan for Chalk Bridge

Dec 21

Siân Wells — Feminist City

Dec 21

Peter Salman — The Deconstruction Institute

Dec 21

Jayden Luk — Grow The City

Dec 21

Jack Morgan — Freedom of Movement

Dec 21

Harriet Stride — The School with Roots

Dec 21

Freddie Hutchinson — Channelsea Tidal Gardens

Dec 21

Dominika Pilch — Kingsland Centre

Dec 21

Carlos M C Pereira — Social Celebration

Dec 21

Amir Hossein Noori — Narratives of De Beauvoir

Dec 21

Sam Butler — The Co-Evolving Workplace

Dec 21

Sam Pywell — Hackney Centre of Change

Dec 21

Ross Langtree — Wick Ridge

Dec 21

Mikolaj Strug — Identity and Accessibility

Dec 21

Dougie Haseler — No Fixed Abode

Dec 21

Jonathan Boon — Arrival Space

Dec 21

Francesca Taplin — Active Cities

Dec 21

Sebastian Maher — Build Back Beta

Dec 21

LSA LAB Director Lara Kinneir chairs UN HABITAT workshop on ‘New Urban Agenda’

Dec 21

Developing Competencies for Tomorrow’s Architect — the LSA at the ARB’s professionalism and ethical behaviour workshop

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Circular architecture needs material passports

In our ongoing series of opinion pieces, Rachel Hoolahan explains the pressing case for material passports

If we want to have a future world, we must embrace circularity. If we want to embrace circular architecture, material reuse is essential. And, if we want to embrace material reuse, I believe that material passports are vital.

The construction industry is currently facing two critical challenges. Firstly, we need to stop emitting carbon (and other harmful pollutants). Secondly, we need to slow down the extraction of natural resources. The simplest solution for both problems is to just stop building and live with the spaces that already exist.

But this isn’t the right answer either – we need spaces and places for our populations to thrive in an equitable way, and much of our current building stock just isn’t up to scratch. Therefore, the only alternative is to stop using new materials – or at the very least limit their use.

We are increasingly seeing project teams reusing as much of existing buildings as much as possible. Generally, a substantial amount of the original structure is retained. But any materials that must be removed from site as part of the demolition process ordinarily end up in a downcycling loop. Imagine if we could just carefully deconstruct the building and reuse the materials, either as they are, or with a light refurbishment?

In today’s industry, this is a seemingly impossible task. It’s considerably more expensive to deconstruct rather than demolish, and the materials typically haven’t been designed for deconstruction, often being glued together so it’s almost impossible to pull them apart without damaging something. It’s also perceived as a very risky business to take a material that you frankly know nothing about and install it ‘as new’ elsewhere.

A material passport is, as the name suggests, an identity document for construction materials. The basic idea is that if you have access to useful information, such as the original specification and life history of an element, you have a better chance of deciding if it has a future life or not. Most of the research work to date has focused on developing the concept for new materials, but at Orms we believe that we need to go beyond this and find a way to safely reuse the materials that are already in existence.

 

When we launched our research in 2021, we hoped that it would spark some conversations and inspire others to join the effort. We didn’t expect the level of interest and sheer quantity of offers of support that followed – from all corners of the industry, and increasingly, all corners of the world.

In 2022, we launched a material passport working group. The aim is to bring together the testing, thinking and debate, and to truly collaborate as an industry. Slowly, we’re starting to make meaningful progress as a collective and encourage others to join the chorus of voices advocating for material reuse and finding a way to make it happen.

Our role as architects is to identify and maximise the potential that each building opportunity presents. We must reflect on our current built environment, particularly the buildings that are not suitable for reuse, so we can truly understand how to design for circularity and carry this wisdom on to our future work. As custodians of our built environment, our sphere of influence is enormous – and we must choose to use it wisely.

Rachel Hoolahan is an associate at Orms, a Member Plus practice of the LSA Practice Network