Material re-use can come in a wide range of possibilities -- be it something small like paperclips or something more substantial like entire buildings. Hoping to find a way to recycle some of the waste stone generated from an old town's tile-making industry, architects from internationally-based Collective Terrain designed a five-storey residential and retail building in Mahallat, Iran that is now clad in locally-sourced stone that was previously deemed unusable.
Known for its abundant deposits of travertine (a type of limestone), half of Mahallat's economy is based on the mining, refining and cutting of the stone into tiles. The process is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and is not very efficient due to the technology used, ultimately wasting about a half of the mined material.
Looking to prevent remnants of the stonecutting process from being dumped and polluting the environment, Collective Terrain's architects from Tehran, Iran and Seoul, South Korea collaborated to create eight three-bedroom apartments stacked on top of ground-floor retail, covering the angular structure in a more visually appealing mix of the town's waste stone material.
Stone was also brought into the apartments' modern interiors to create a distinct atmosphere with a "natural yet intimate manner." The result is Apartment No. 1, a building that not only integrates well with its surroundings, but also makes good use of material that would have otherwise been discarded.
The project -- completed in 2010 -- has been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Awards this year, which notes some inspiring changes:
This project turns the inefficiency to economic and environmental advantage by reusing leftover stones for both exterior and some interior walls, and has led to the increasing adoption of stone recycling by local builders. [..] Its austere prismatic form is balanced by the warmth of the natural materials. Small windows are shielded by triangular stone protrusions, and larger ones have wooden shutters that allow residents to regulate light and temperature levels.
Bridging longstanding traditions with more responsible re-use of local resources, Apartment No. 1 stands as a great example of what can be achieved when people re-think the idea of what is unusable "waste." More over at Collective Terrain and the Aga Khan Awards.