Reasons that have held the construction
industry back from using more recycled
materials have included a lack of knowledge about the products that are available – their durability and cost and what extra time and resources would be needed to source the material.
Recycled materials need to be specified at the appropriate development stage, and designers and architects need to know what options are available to them.
Work by Creative Resource, a three-year research project into the sustainable development of materials within the design process, should help change this.
This led to the development of a unique
library of sustainable material samples, available at Kingston University and online. Dehn says the library now has about 800 samples from 50 companies in 12 countries. Funding for the project runs out next year, but Dehn hopes to secure more so that the library can be maintained.
From the perspective of design, Creative Resource has been investigating the
aesthetic, economic and manufacturing potential of materials made from waste, and has worked with designers, manufacturers, suppliers, retail outlets and environmental organisations. This has been done on a worldwide basis. The research aims to show the benefit of working with waste, and help break down the barriers to specifying the use of these materials, as well as highlighting their creative potential.
Part of the final output will be case studies of proven entrepreneurial successes and a look at the development of certain materials made from waste. The researchers have also been looking at how governments have been supporting the development of recycled
materials, through initiatives such as the Waste and Resources Action Programme in the UK.
The exhibition is intended to act as a single point
of reference for designers, material specifiers and
the public, helping to promote the value of using recycled materials.
Dehn, who has led the project since the initial research in 1994, says it has been interesting to see which materials have survived and found markets and economic success. She explains that there is a long development process involved in creating new materials, as it takes time to find funding and then test the materials.
She speaks positively of the impact
these new materials are having, explaining how some are now helping regenerate areas of decline by being manufactured
in places such as Wales and the north east.
“It’s great to see how it can work,” she says.
Dehn tells how she has seen recycled materials develop over time, from being very ugly and smelly in their early days to the very beautiful products that are available today. “It is good to see what is normally thought of as rubbish made into something valuable,” she says.
And it was this interest that fuelled her studies in the first place. A furniture designer with her own workshop, Dehn says she became increasingly concerned with the level of waste that was being produced, and was interested in the development
of a new set of materials th