Recycling is a must in the new architecture lifestyle
Care for the environment and the search for more sustainable forms of construction have led to the reuse of materials and a renewed appreciation of durable and functional pieces made by craftsmen.
We throw away more rubbish than any other country in Europe, generating more waste than any of the others (approximately 1 kg. per inhabitant per day) and looking down our noses at any object that is broken, has ceased to work or that we consider old and outdated. We prefer to throw things away rather than fix them. It may well be cheaper to buy a new object than to repair the old one, and when we refurbish the house or move we have a grand clear out, even though, curiously, we are getting rid of objects that will be replaced by others that are very similar.
And what are we going to do with the things we don’t need? Will there be mountains of rubbish in the future, heaps of objects that are no longer any use to us? If nobody does anything about it, will there come a day when we will be crushed by mountains of mobile phones, fans, mixers or plastic boxes? It’s a horrifying thought, isn’t it?
But don’t panic, a good team is already working on recycling, which is both necessary and politically correct. We are talking about a process in which we think about the disposal of each item when it is manufactured. This trend contributes to sustainability, a very necessary principle which has been fiercely fought for and which now seems to be a topic everyone is talking about. But why do people tend to believe that the recycling of materials results in another product which is very ecological but cheap and inferior? It turns out that it is neither one nor the other.
1. Hospitality: MO de Movimiento
This is the first initiative of Proyectos Conscientes, a group founded in 2018 by Javier Antequera (one of the founding partners of El Lateral) and Felipe Turell (from Hotel Urban), in whose launch designer and artisan Lucas Muñoz also participated, making up a team committed to conscious change and to fighting the excessive and impulsive consumption we are surrounded by.
Just after the MO de Movimiento restaurant opened, they had to close because of the lockdown, reopening during the summer, when the number of customers exceeded all expectations. Everyone was clear that it was not just a matter of setting up a successful restaurant business but trying go one step further. Among other reasons, because of the importance given to recycling and making use of materials. It is located in the former premises of the EFE Agency Auditorium in Calle Espronceda and, with the thousands of kilos of debris generated during its demolition, they designed almost all the functional elements of the restaurant: benches, tables, chairs, lamps, pizza ovens and cooling vats. Moreover, the heating uses a spiral circuit heated in the pizza ovens themselves.
More than 1,700 kilos of rubble accumulated on the site, remaining there for almost seven months while refurbishment work was in progress, shaping its final destination. The benches where MO diners sit today are thus a direct re-materialisation of the floors of the EFE Agency’s photography set.
The furniture was built with the wood recovered from the raised floor in the old stalls, which was carefully removed so that it could be cleaned and reused. This design is very much in tune with the open and revolutionary philosophy of the Autoprogettazione project by the Italian master Enzo Mari. In this case, the table tops were created by Paloma Folache, an expert in cladding and finishes, and her team. For the lighting of the premises the fluorescent lights from the press centre were used, forming a set of luminaires manufactured from watertight cases. The electrical components in them were stripped out by electrical engineering students from Asociación Norte Joven and LED lights were fitted by the Lucas Muñoz workshop.
Staff uniforms, designed by Inés Sistiaga and Lucas Muñoz in Madrid, are another example of the sustainable use of textiles. The anthracite coloured shirts were bought second-hand from organisations such as Humana and Caritas and subsequently dyed by the Aletheia natural dye workshop.
The process was carried out with tannin, a natural dye that is found in pomegranates, walnuts and trees such as oak or sumach, and with the nails from the wood used to make the furniture.
Instead of removing the stains created by the dyeing, the designers chose to highlight them using Japanese Sashiko (“little stabs”) embroidery, an ancient sewing technique that responds to the need to preserve garments in times of war or austerity. The idea of making garments last is also reflected in the aprons, which are waxed to avoid frequent washing.
The MO de Movimiento restaurant is also sustainable because it limits the use of bottled water with a filtering system that takes advantage of several 1,000- and 3,000-litre tanks filled by rainwater. In addition, grey water is filtered and reused, while a heating system runs throughout the premises and supplies the double shell of the pizza ovens.
A similar system is used for cooling, based on the natural properties of terra cotta. It applies the adiabatic evaporative principle using large vats suspended from the ceiling and cabinets attached to the patio walls with a heat exchanger to cool hot air. With this solution the temperature can be lowered to 14 degrees. It was designed by Lucas Muñoz and Joan Vallbé Rafecas, together with Zetus Soluciones Energéticas and engineer Agyrios Papadopoulos. The vats were made in the workshops of Antonio Moreno Arias, master earthenware maker in Badajoz, using a traditional Arab kiln.
2. Cutting-edge recycling
Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, one of the leading exponents of the recycling movement, has been designing aesthetic and ecologically sustainable furniture from natural and recycled materials for many years at his workshop in Eindhoven (Netherlands). He does not make mass-produced or impersonal furniture but constructs it using industrial and natural waste materials. He began in the 1990s, by designing his first cupboard, known worldwide as the “classic cupboard”, an outstanding example of this new trend, creating beauty from recycled materials with a strong emphasis on craftwork. This was his response to the typical manufacturing process: “efficiency” achieved by renouncing raw materials in favour of objects made from waste materials using manual and craft techniques. His approach requires that the pieces of wood be hand-assembled and aligned by eye to deliberately achieve the unique, imperfect character of each item.
3. Pieces that are already classics
There are decorative items that are classics in the history of design. They include the limited edition Volivic lamp, produced by the EnPieza Studio and Lucas Muñoz with 347 Bic pens and the Screen lamp designed by Alfonso Merry del Val, using the structure of an old screen. There is also the base for a bust built with two pallets by the Ramón de Arana architecture studio and the earrings created by Israeli designers Dave&Esty, mounted on stripped electric wires.
4. Two emergency homes
Built in 1928 on the Californian coast by Miles Kellogg, the Boat Houses are two stranded boats constructed using old timber from a former dance hall. They became protected buildings in 2008. Another project is the pavilions for major disasters and emergencies designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and built with cardboard tubes of different diameters.
Sustainable construction solutions
Currently, more thought is given to demolishing buildings than to their durability. In construction, as much use as possible is made of materials, so as not to generate waste that has an impact on nature.
More and more architects are adopting recyclable materials that can be dismantled and reused easily in their projects.
This type of recycling requires dynamic and flexible urban planning at the end of a building’s useful life. Planning that constantly changes.
All of this is encouraging Spanish construction and energy companies to implement plans for good practice. This applies to the eight Porcelanosa companies whose commitment to sustainability has earned them the Zero Waste Certificate, awarded by SGS, confirming that over 99% of the waste generated in their facilities is recycled and reused in other industrial processes, putting an end to disposal in landfill. This year the company launched a Green Industrialisation Programme which will link its business activity to the Sustainable Development Goals given priority in the UN 2030 Agenda.
To use only the materials necessary, minimise surplus and reuse it, the multinational has designed products such as Forest, Par-Ker’s ceramic parquet with 95% recycled material; the natural, eco-friendly wood collections marketed by L’Antic Colonial are also eco-friendly, as demonstrated by the PEFC, FSC®, NWFA and AITIM labels, which certify that each component comes from a forest where more trees are replanted than are cut down.
The collections that recycle glass, giving it a second life, include Glaze Denim Bottle Light, Arabia Gold, Essential and Boulder. Krion’s shower trays and countertops, made of recycled PET plastics and Eco Resin, also demonstrate an ecological awareness in our country’s industry.
- 1 1. Hospitality: MO de Movimiento
- 2 2. Cutting-edge recycling
- 3 Piet Hein Eek MirrorPHE. TablesPietHeinEek Ruinart photo by Jesajahizkia.comPietHeinEek Ruinart photo by Jesajahizkia.comPietHeinEek barra photo by Jesajahizkia.com
- 4 3. Pieces that are already classics
- 5 4. Two emergency homes