UBC Graduate Research

Vancouver Especially : The Value of Deconstruction Connell, Devin


The waste processes in most urban contexts are concealed from their citizens. Complex networks and systems made simple by way of drop-off and pick-up make for a disconnected and ignorant society in regards to how their own waste is actually dealt with. What’s out of sight is out of mind. This especially holds true with buildings, the biggest things we consume. One week a building’s there, the next, it’s gone. Where did it go? How were its materials digested into our waste systems? Was every part of that building ready to be treated as waste? The prevailing methods of demolition waste management for single-family homes are inefficient, ineffective, and not aligned with the cultural consciousness of Vancouver or its goal for zero waste. There is still an immense amount of waste piling up in the landfill, and even a lot of the waste that is being diverted, is simply burned or brought elsewhere. The urgency of improving demolition waste management is a multi-fold issue regarding loss of valuable materials we will never see again, historical and cultural significance, meeting future waste goals, and general issues around sustainability and climate change at large. The completion of one single-family home is the culmination of a symphony of industry perfected over centuries. The harvesting of materials, processing, manufacturing, distribution, and ultimately construction, has adapted over time to be successful through the natural selection process of capitalism - survival of the fittest. But what of when we want to rid ourselves of a product of these outputs? What architectural solution and industrial process reflects the inversion of construction? How can we turn a negative into a positive? These are crucial questions to answer at a critical moment in the history of architectural waste management. Society is finally facing the end result of its architectural decisions made in the 20th century. How we choose to deal with the waste these buildings produce will pave the way for all constructions to follow; up until now, and into the future.

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