The notion of using the site and surrounding area as the first place to look for resources is unfamiliar and foreign to most current designers. But in the past, and in some parts of the world even today, discarding materials was not an option, as new materials were expensive or not easily available, and innovation included working creatively with materials that had a past life.

In any urban society there is a massive stock of available materials from demolition and industrial waste that is currently discarded but has potential value. Although the infrastructure to locate and use these resources is currently lacking, some industry leaders are establishing design strategies, material recovery processes, construction management approaches and manufacturing systems to create innovative new ways of using them in the built environment. This book explores the creative opportunities and practical aspects of this gradual move to a more circular way of thinking about material resources in the built environment. In particular, the focus is on reuse of materials and components, including both construction salvage and waste streams from other industries.

In The Science of the Artificial, Herbert Simon describes design as ‘the process by which we devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones’. If we wish to create a more ecologically based built environment, we need not only to design more sustainable buildings but, more fundamentally, to devise ...

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