Process & Place

A study of heritage value in building deconstruction and material reuse within a Belgian context

A demolition waste pile in Canada

The objectives of this research expand on recent inquiries into the relationship between processes of demolition and deconstruction and heritage conservation in a Canadian context, in order to address the connection between process and place. In investigating the processes and spaces in which deconstruction, salvage, storage and refurbishment occur, this project aims to articulate the connection between local, national and international infrastructures which transform popular understandings of building materials from waste to resources. Important to this study is an exploration of methods in recognizing ongoing cultural significance through the continued use of these materials. On a broader level, this research addresses what in many fields has been called ‘the crisis of accumulation’. Increasingly, attention to not only growing piles of demolition waste and subsequent greenhouse gases from landfills but expanding definitions of heritage sites as well as the data which accompanies them has resulted in a call for action in addressing these issues. Attention to the depletion of natural resources has additionally re-positioned the re-use of building materials within both a practical and ecological imperative.  With multiple forces and factors at play, this project aims to derive specific activities connected to building material reclamation to broader geographic, social, economic and political conditions which both enable and impede them.

The project aims to contextualize these trajectories and networks through an immersive internship and investigation of the processes carried out by the Belgian deconstruction/design collective Rotor and an academic scholarship at the ae-lab (VUB) under the supervision of Stephanie Van de Voorde at VUB and Professor Susan Ross (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada). For this internship and scholarship (May-August 2018), Alison Creba has received a CREATE Heritage Engineering Grant and a Mitacs Globalink Research Award.