(down)cycling old walls and preserving for the future
At yök Casa + Cultura’s eco-renovation, recyclability is one of the key factors. Even though we didn’t want to throw anything away, some of the original partition walls had to go in order to fit the distribution to our current lives, creating smaller apartments with more privacy.
What is important to us it that in the future, maybe in another 100 years from now, people can go back to the original wall distribution. We are not touching any of the mosaic tiled floor or decorative ceilings. New walls are simply being put on top and below, so that they can be taken out and recycled in the future.
As for the rubble resulting from taking out some of the walls, we had an official company take it away for proper recycling, as required by the City Council. Regarding the current recycling system, this is probably a downcycling rather than upcycling, but at least it is not creating more landfill but serves as material for building works.
The Waste Agency within the Catalan Regional Government (Agència de Residus de Catalunya) explains:
A high volume of construction waste is generated in Catalonia. Due to its characteristics, much of this waste can be reused or recycled. Therefore, due to its importance, there is a specific management programme and management model for this waste. After a period of consolidation in which the aim is to attain the correct final management, the focus will be on prevention, recycling and the promotion of a market for recycled materials.
Everything else we hope to restore, both for environmental reasons (to reduce waste and save resources) as well as emotional ones (to preserve a piece of history and culture). We believe that even a piece of the old wallpaper from the 70s has to stay (image above). Our motto is: first, preserve everything we can, then recycle everything that has to go and lastly, make sure any new stuff is recyclable in the future. Reduce, reuse, recycle! And restore.