Diploma 18 Deconstruction of the Boudewijn Building, Rotor, 2017


Lionel Devlieger, Maarten Gielen, Aude-Line Duliere

Today in north-west Europe, less than 1% of building elements are repurposed after their first use. Although a large number of elements are technically reusable, they end up being either down-cycled or landfilled resulting in a high environmental impact and a considerable loss of economic value. Rotor – a collective which researches and develops critical positions on design, materials resources and waste – has partnered with technical institutions, trade associations, research centres, architecture schools and public administrations in an effort to double the amount of recirculated building elements available in northern France, Belgium, the UK and the southern Netherlands by 2032. This territory houses thousands of SMEs specialised in the reclamation of recovered building elements. Despite their obvious potential for a circular economy, these operators are facing important challenges such as market access or a fluid integration into contemporary building practices. Rooted in earlier initiatives successfully started up in Brussels, Rotor’s long-term ambition is the diversion of 1,75 million tons of waste, creating a value of €300 million or 4,000 new jobs.

This unit is seen as a preliminary investigation and will focus on the UK. First, students will realise an extensive inventory of existing UK practices and stakeholders – site visits will allow for the in-detail documentation of a selection of innovative practices. In the second term, students will approach the subject from an architectural perspective. Through seminars and documentation of local and international reference projects, research issues that hinder practice-related development will be used to explore the solutions developed. Lastly, on the basis of the research, students will identify a particular case study. This can be a logistical problem faced by an expanding company, a technical challenge posed by a particular material that is currently difficult to market or an attempt to integrate salvaged materials in a typical contemporary construction program. Throughout the programme, ideas will be developed into a mature and peer-reviewed design presented at the final review in a relevant format (mock-up, models, drawings, etc.).

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Unit Staff

Lionel Devlieger and Maarten Gielen are among the founding members of Rotor (Brussels). Together they have taught at TU Delft, Columbia University and curated the 2013 Oslo Architecture Triennale, Behind the Green Door. Rotor curated OMA/ Progress at the Barbican, London, as well as Usus/Usures, the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2010). In 2012, Rotor developed an online inventory of salvaged building materials around Brussels: Opalis.

Aude-Line Duliere is an architect. She holds a MArch from the Harvard GSD, has been part of Rotor’s development team and worked at David Chipperfield Architects. She is the recipient of the 2018 Wheelwright Prize which focuses on the potential re-use of material within the film industry.

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