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‘Charrette Week’ of Newcastle University is an activity which brings a host of artists, architects, engineers, designers, and thinkers to the university to run a series of week-long projects. Students from different backgrounds taught design and art courses join to devise a combination of creative outputs related to three common themes – Spectacular, Failure, Help.

The term of ‘charrette’ is derived from the French word ‘little cart’, which then means a period of the intensive workshop devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or plan the design of something. By gathering students from different educational systems, countries, and cogitations, this activity incorporated several viewpoints and opinions in a short week. The group then created the prototype at the end of the Charrette and showed on the exhibition. It was an impressive experience by people working in different ways, thinking in different ways and creating things in different ways.

In Studio 8, the Charrette leader, Mr. Tibot Labat, a professional by using time, space and dynamic on site as an opportunity that opens up design and research processes, brought us an idea of Re-use of material and waste around the world. By divided into smaller groups, consisting of 4-5 students, each small group discussed few documents about architecture in reverse. It is worth noted that though people start tending to reuse second-hand materials these years, there are still lots of buildings demolished every year, which means the supply has exceeded demand and the value of these aggregates has collapsed. Furthermore, even it has been categorized ‘reuse’ into three different types – restoration (the form is reproduced identically), renovation (the form is upgraded but the function remains the same), adaptive reuses (both the form and function change), how do we reintegrate the extracted elements as best as possible? In lots of different cases, it suggests that nothing is entirely predictable and there may be many trials before reaching an acceptable selection of integrating reused elements.

According to the common knowledge of recycling materials, we then brought different materials in the storage space we were interested in. Each group tried to think about the possible way of reusing them and trial in different ways. Based on the appearances, qualities, etc., we marked 4 different content of each material – ID card (name, dimension, price, description, aggregate…), feeling, possible origin and 3possible uses.

The next step, there was a group called ‘More Than Once’ presented their project of exploring the deconstruction of Claremont Tower of Newcastle’s campus involving an intensive process of cataloging and evaluation of potential reusing building materials that so far have been destined to landfill. To combine with the theme of Charrette Week this year, we then told over an idea of reusing the materials we got, which is originally from a selective dismantling of Claremont Tower. We would like to build a prototype construction to express there is a possible way using these materials as valuable components instead of lying on the landfill as waste. After that, we organized the main idea and then reached to be our Charrette Week’s theme: ‘Re-use, Waste, Up-cycling.’

To follow the idea we’ve discussed, we tried to make the materials be flexible in the structure to make sure it could be reused again and again. At the end of the Charrette Week, we made several cubes with two different dimensions – 300x300x300, 600x300x300 mm and built the prototype to express our main idea – reusing materials as new flexible constructions which could be used for different purposes again and again.

Overall, this project forced us to think deeply about recycling materials from demolition. Nowadays, more and more buildings in the city are getting older and older, which also means they’ve depreciated in value. For several reasons, some old building faces the fate of demolishing because of its physical deterioration which means a lot of waste will be created. If we do not deal with the waste but keep using new material by harming the environment we live in, it will be a disaster we are going to face in the near future.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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