ABSTRACT for Keynote Presentation 'BUILDINGS AS MATERIAL BANKS: designing for perpetual re-use' presented by Duncan Baker-Brown FRSA RIBA at the UNMAKING WASTE 2018 conference held at The University of South Australia Adelaide Australia.

In 2016 Herbert Kopnik wrote an essay entitled ‘Why wait for the future? There could be a present without waste’, where he speculated about the launch of the iPhone 10 more than a year before the actual event. In the essay Kopnik invents a scenario where Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has changed the whole emphasis of Apple’s modus operandi, from a company selling products, to a company selling services. Just imagine if Apple Inc. and other major producers of so-called consumables actually did manufacture products for re-use, re-manufacture; to literally be material banks for future products. It’s more than sixteen years since Prof. Michael Braungart and William McDonough published their seminal book ‘Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things’, where they constructed a near future world ‘where everything is beneficial….. where all materials are nutrients and everything is designed to become part of an ongoing biological or technical cycle, where we can celebrate abundance’. So what relevance do the above statements have to a world where humans create nearly 6 million tonnes of waste every day as a consequence of nearly $100 trillion of economic activity annually? Well although the practice and knowledge is still not commonplace I want to spend most of the time I have speaking to you all considering a number of exciting pathfinder case study projects where ingenious designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and (de-) constructors are creating products and buildings that are designed to be the aforementioned material banks for the future, as well as others who are carefully unpacking existing buildings as a material resource for ‘new’ developments, - literally UnMaking Waste. I will also consider the potential benefits achieved by companies utilising alternative material sources or ‘flows’ often overlooked by affluent societies. Key Words: Recycle, Reuse, Deconstruct, Re-manufacture, Design
Original languageEnglish
TypeUnMaking Waste 2018 Adelaide Australia
Media of outputConference
Number of pages122
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2018


  • Circular economy
  • Closed-loop systems
  • Re-use
  • Architecture Design
  • Cradle to Cradle


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