Concrete really is very beautiful. And you can make amazing structures from it too – the screenshot below from a simple Google Images search is testament to this. Beautiful shapes, structural strength, and a neutral colour which allows focus on form. However, it has serious environmental issues as it produces one tonne of CO2 for every tonne of manufactured cement – the binding ingredient in concrete – explained in detail by The Green Age. Unwanted concrete used to go straight to landfill but is now crushed for gravel or aggregates as the world tries to deal with our unsustainable levels of consumption and waste. Recycling concrete still requires transport and processing, which in turn use finite resources… and why the reuse of the old concrete piers from under our house make me so happy.
We have just raised our house. I call it the Tower in the Sky. The concrete piers that were left in the ground varied in size and appearance. Some have smooth edges and some rough. We hired a digger for the day and moved them round the block, forming garden beds and an edging to the new paving area. Around the paving area they have a second use: at 300mm high, these smooth concrete blocks make perfect resting spots. Have a seat.
Who doesn’t love Frankie. I received a copy as a surprise gift this month, and this magazine makes me happy. Beautiful design, uncoated stock and sweet typography are just the beginning of why Frankie brings me joy. This mag is filled with creative people who believe in designing or living sustainably. They may not express it quite in that way but that’s how I see it. Magazine editor, Jo dedicates this issue to Giving, whether that’s for a celebration (‘presents we’ve made or bought’), or for charity. Thank you Frankie for my tear-out gift wrapping/wall poster! Frankie includes one of these in each issue, and the snap taken for this post is an illustration by Ji min Yoon which forms the reverse side of the two-month wall calendar. Sometimes it’s wrapping paper on the other side of the calendar, but I always use it, and twice – once for the calendar and then for gift wrapping. Here is that idea of designing a second life into a product – not just a magazine supporting an illustrator with a poster-sized print, but a usable item.
Jeremy Williams wrote a great post yesterday about the possibility of a developed economy reaching saturation point for ‘stuff’ and has quoted IKEA’s Head of Sustainability as conceding that the west may have hit ‘peak stuff’ and ‘peak home furnishings’, with a view to sell up-cycling and maintenance of IKEA products in the future as this groundswell of enthusiasm to extend the life cycle of products takes hold.
In the meantime, I’m off to enjoy some more Frankie journalism.
My first post: We’re renovating four old units into a family home over the next year. The building is from the 40s and is original. Not detail-gorgeous original, just old and falling-apart original. The kitchens have a sink with underneath chipboard cupboard, and there’s a chipboard pantry. Bathrooms with (rusty) water heater in a cupboard. Get the idea?
But, my fabulous designer-friend Kate, is doing all the architectural details and she was the first to spot a couple of handsome pieces. In the spirit of Fuad-Luke I am aiming to reuse, extending the lifecycle of building materials where I can. Not only is it good for Earth, it will save some money and add to the character of the new build.
I’ll show you some of our ideas over the next year: here is a bathroom wall cabinet which needs some TLC but is made predominantly from timber and glass – and check out the etched palm trees on the glass. Perfect for Brisbane.