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Building material reuse

I’ve built a number of small items (shelves, mostly) out of scrounged wood: Pieces of futon frames found in the dumpster; scrap wood in the woodshop trash bin; a battered desk abandoned in the alley next to the dumpster. Why not? It’s much cheaper than buying new lumber somewhere, which adds another level of satisfaction to the whole creation process. I’m saving this from the landfill! And getting something I need from it! With a bonus of justification for my collections of “But it might be useful someday.” And the process of taking something apart, carefully, non-destructively, is fun in its own right. (Which is why I have a pile of disassembled electronic things gathering dust on my bookshelves.)

So I love reading about projects where a lot of the materials came from a building that was torn down.  And knowing where I can go to find materials to reuse. And information about how to take things apart so that they can be reused. So, a collection of related links:

Locally, there is the Building Materials Resource Center and the Boston Building Materials Co-Op, which I have known about for years and never yet visited. Someday.

The Building Materials Reuse Association offers training, has an online library, including how-tos, a directory of people/organizations  (Mass. listings), and other useful things I have only begun to explore.

Sometime this year, Public Architecture will be launching the Design for Reuse Primer, an online resource, which I found out about via Recycling 2.0, an article in the current issue of Architecture Boston.

And a book! Unbuilding: Salvaging the Architectural Treasures of Unwanted Houses, by Bob Falk and Brad Guy, which I think I will be putting in an order for soon, because there are some very inexpensive used copies out there.

Slightly less locally, Yestermorrow Design/Build school in Vermont offers a course called Design for Deconstruction and Reconstruction (Brad Guy, co-author of that book, is one of the instructors), which covers “the processes of harvesting building materials from existing structures, design to incorporate these materials into new constructions that are adaptable and deconstructable, and finally building one or more small scale structures using reclaimed materials.”

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