Wasted opportunities: Developing resiliency in architecture through ecosystem biomimicry

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Balle, Brad
McConchie, Graeme
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Balle, B. & McConchie, G. (2010, November). Wasted opportunities: Developing resiliency in architecture through ecosystem biomimicry. In C. Murphy, S. Wake, D. Turner, G. McConchie & D. Rhodes (Eds.). On the border: Architectural science in theory and practice, Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Architectural Science Association (CD Rom Ed.)
Surplus buildings are frequently demolished and replaced under the assumption that it is cheaper to replace than adapt. The demolished building becomes waste material, usually ending up in landfills. Yet in nature discarded waste does not exist – it instead becomes ‘food’ for other flora and fauna. So too can surplus artificial waste become ‘food’ for new construction, thereby prolonging the life-cycle of materials by seeking new opportunities for their reinvestment in a building. We can thus rethink a building as a long duration work-in-progress, constantly developing and changing incrementally under changing conditions of context; designed to be readily susceptible – not resistant – to adaptation and growth. The energy-conservative re-use of an existing building and materials represents a positive response to the environmental sustainability imperative. Yet, whilst gently adding layers and texture over time through gradual, incremental growth, this re-use paradigm also ensures a continuing social familiarity with the urban landscape and the sustainability of associated memory. This paper critically examines the reuse paradigm and appraises the application of re-use strategies, taking as its case study a post-graduate architectural research project based in the adaptive re-use of an electricity substation building and site in the city-fringe suburb of Kingsland in Auckland, New Zealand.
Australian and New Zealand Architectural Science Association
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Brad Balle and Graeme McConchie
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