Design for disassembly is one thing, but how can one make sure that building components will also effectively be reused over and over? An interesting conversation with Frank Heinlein (Werner Sobek Group) and Dirk Hebel (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie) lead to their usage of high end reclaimed hardware in the experimental research building ‘Nest’ run by the EMPA in Zurich. The unit will stay up for a few years, and on disassembly the hardware will return to our company and prepared for another cycle.
A residential module fully constructed from reusable, recyclable, and compostable materials: This is the premise for the newest unit in NEST, the modular research and innovation building run by Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf. On 8 February 2018, the NEST “Urban Mining & Recycling” unit will open its doors and henceforth house two students. At the same time, as an active lab it will also help to advance the construction industry’s transition to a recycling economy. Notably, the unit is equipped with hardware that was salvaged and reconditioned by RotorDC.
The concept was devised by Werner Sobek with Dirk E. Hebel and Felix Heisel. Werner Sobek is Director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the University of Stuttgart and founder of the Werner Sobek Group. Dirk E. Hebel is the Director and Felix Heisel is the Head of Research at the Chair of Sustainable Construction at KIT Karlsruhe and the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Center. “The ongoing, sustained growth of the global population as well as dwindling resources urgently require us to do some rethinking in the construction industry”, says Werner Sobek. “In future, we must reduce our consumption of construction materials and build for many more people.”
The concept of cycles must, therefore, play a central role on the path to more sustainable construction: “The materials that we utilize will not just be used and then disposed of; instead they will be extracted from their cycle and later returned to it”, says Dirk E. Hebel in explaining the concept. Thus, a wide variety of serially processed components are used in the “Urban Mining & Recycling” unit; the various materials can be separated, sorted and, without any residues, returned to their respective material cycles.