Friday, May 01, 2009
"The trick is to be as lazy as possible," explains Cesare Peeren of 2012 Architecten, clearly one of the most energetic practices around. "You have to listen to your materials; they dictate what is possible and ultimately generate the design."
This is no return to Ruskin's "truth to materials", but a purely pragmatic response to converting recycled waste products into building components, the essential basis of 2012's work - and an increasingly urgent alternative for us all.
Every project begins by creating a "harvest map" of all nearby waste streams, scoping out the available surplus materials around any given site. The design then grows out of the qualities of what they can get their hands on. A surfeit of redundant Audi 100 windscreens inspired a gently undulating shelving system for a shoe shop fit-out, while a truckload of washing machines led to the futuristic pod-like structure of the office's travelling studio.
They are now completing a house for an art dealer using the steel frame from a redundant textile machine, clad with timber reclaimed from cable reels. Even the mechanical elevator used during construction has been retained and incorporated as an internal lift.
"The next step is to start working backwards," says Peeren. "Manufacturers have to realise that their products will be reused for construction and will start designing them accordingly."
Originally published in Icon, May 2009