Ecobuild, the largest design and build show in the world with 43,000 visitors from 121 countries, provided a critical context for industrial and academic discourses around sustainable theory and practice. Ecobuild organisers UBM invited Gant (and Baker-Brown) to direct, chair and curate the Waste Zone, which deliberately convened a diversity of cross-disciplinary parties to debate and devise waste solutions and opportunities in the centre of this industry event. The event brought together designers and architects, manufacturers and retailers, policy-makers and procurement officers, and representatives of the building industry, to synthesise research in the formation of multidisciplinary strategies for waste prevention, in particular, for waste as resource.
Three days of talks, paper presentations, workshops and debates engaged with waste as a global issue. Demonised as an industry, building is a significant contributor to waste and emissions. However, the Waste Zone sought to define waste as a critical opportunity and basis for material security, resource resilience, community enhancement and social cohesion, economic development and creative innovation. Sessions evidenced applied research, such as addressing the revaluation of waste through design intervention, issues of occupation in the built environment and food waste as new organic polymers. The event’s interior space was fabricated entirely from waste materials. It contained an exhibition of photographic works by international photographers, co-curated by leading sustainability agency PhotoDocument. Further contributions included the industry premiere screening of the award-winning feature length documentary Trashed by Jeremy Irons and Candida Brady; Dr Nick Hill, from the Zoological Society of London; Miriam Turner, Assistant Vice President of Co-innovation at Interface; Dr David Greenfield, Director of IESE; and Siobhan Imms, Materials Editor for WGSN.
The event was sponsored by Tesco, Interface, Forbo, Mears Group PLC and UBM (organisers of Ecobuild) and featured in the Architects’ Journal, March 2013.