Design has responded to the challenges of sustainable development – transforming useless objects into new by giving them a new function or appearance, utilizing waste to produce new materials and using recycled packing paper are all standard solutions by now. Meanwhile, architecture is just beginning serious experiments with eco-aesthetics. Specialist technologies of producing PV cells, heat pumps, and advanced ecological materials are one thing. The other one is a return to traditional, tested and proven methods, and making use of wastes in construction. We have gotten used to travertine facades, but what if we have to use plywood instead? In the most developed countries, a new trend has appeared – post-abundance. According to this new vision, old buildings are renovated only to the extent that it is really necessary, old appliances are thrown away only when they really stop functioning. Why demolish an old railroad station, when it is enough to clean it? Do we really need to remove tiles in a newly-purchased flat, just to put new ones in? Why tear-up old floors, when you can paint them? By asking such questions and changing our behaviour, we are acting out of care for the environment. After all, we cannot expect architecture to continuously transform, improve, and modernize our surroundings.

Recycled Paper Building PHZ2
A building made out of waste paper, designed as a mobile workspace by German studio Dratz & Dratz Architekten, and built in 2008. Pressed into blocks, supermarket carton boxes (also made from recycled paper), turned out to be a cheap and solid material for (so far) temporary architecture.

Freitag Flagship Store
A store for Freitag, a producer of bags made of used tyre tubes and seatbelts. It is located in Zurich, in a transportable structure made up of 17 containers, with a rooftop viewing platform. Design: Annette Spillmann, Harald Echsle.