Feature Imperfection: More on Reclaimed Materials

| by Tamarah Long
Feature Imperfection: More on Reclaimed Materials

"If we have a wall of window panes and one pane is cracked, we go...oh dear. That's cracked. Let's repair it. Let's take it out. Throw it away so that nobody can use it and put a new one in because that's what you do with a cracked pane. Never mind that it doesn't affect our lives at all."

That was Dan Phillips (Ted talk of 2010) speaking about radically changing our addiction to using new materials in the building industry. He is passionate about reducing waste in all of his projects. As such, he is a master of embracing the imperfections inherent in some reclaimed materials. He emphasizes that trees in the forest rarely grow straight. Why then does the industry and our society embrace the perfection of building materials? He gives a simple example of our desire to have a picture on the wall be centered. Heaven forbid it should be a little bit off center.

I encourage you to view Dan Phillips' full talk. But in the meantime, here are a few examples of some odd things that Mr. Phillips has used in his renovation projects: Hickory nuts used as an exterior architectural detail, chicken eggs used as architectural buttons, a fence from a wood working machine used as a dead bolt, and scraps from broken toilets used as lumpy tiles for the exterior of a bathtub. In conclusion, if you are renovating your home and you want to use reclaimed materials to change the look of an architectural feature, understand that it is OK to fail and to try something a little wacky. You may actually enjoy the relief of imperfection.

Further Readings and Helpful Websites




Topics: Building Green

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