Completions: Reuse and Object Representations
Paper in proceeding, 2020
Reuse of construction and demolition waste tends to be exceptional rather than systemic, despite the fact that such waste exists in excess. One of the challenges in handling used elements and materials is integrating them into a digital workflow through means of survey and representation. Techniques such as 3d-scanning and robotic fabrication have been used to target irregular geometries of such extant material. Scanning can be applied to digitally define a unique rather than standard stock of materials, or, as in the field of preservation, to transfer specific forms and qualities onto a new stock. This paper melds these two approaches through Completions, a project that promotes reuse by integrating salvaged elements and materials into new assemblies. Drawing from the ancient practice of reuse known as spolia, the work develops from the identification and documentation of a varied set of used entities that become points of departure for subsequent design and production of new entities. This involves multiple steps, from locating and selecting used elements, to scanning and fabrication. Three assemblies based on salvaged objects are produced: a window frame, a door casing, and a mantelpiece. Different means of documentation are outlined in relation to specific qualities of these objects, from photogrammetry, to image and mesh-based tracing. Authentic qualities belonging to these elements, such as wear and patina, are coupled with more ambiguous forms and materialities only attainable through digital survey and fabrication. Finally, Completions speculates on how more automated workflows might make it feasible to develop extensive virtual catalogues of used objects that designers could interact with remotely.