Towards a waste free building industry.

50% of all New Zealand’s waste (amounting to 1.6 million tonnes annually) is generated by the construction sector.

As part of Masters of Architecture (Professional) (MArch) degree at Victoria University of Wellington, a year long research study has been undertaken to determine the potential capacity of the architect to reduce and eliminate end-of-life building waste. It is foreseen that the planning and designing for the disassembly of buildings at the end of their useful lives has the potential to greatly reduce the quantity of waste produced. This research is supervised by Mr. Guy Marriage and supported by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), Team Architects Limited, the New Zealand Instuite of Architects (NZIA) and the New Zealand Institute of Building's Charitable Trust (NZIOB).

I am currently looking for funding and investment opportunities to continue this research. If you or your business is interested please contact me at ged.finch@vuw.ac.nz.

Part One: Setting the Scene

The building and construction sector in New Zealand consumes more than 50% of all raw materials while simultaneously generating more than 50% of all waste sent to landfill (Ministry for the Environment, 26). These unprecedented levels of consumption are set to continue as demand for residential housing in New Zealand continues to grow rapidly (Statistics NZ, n.p). Architects and building professionals, as key figures in the building sector, have a responsibility to implement systems that reduce the impact of our industry on the environment. One such approach is to design for deconstruction. Through planning and designing for the disassembly of buildings at the end of their useful life we have the potential to greatly reduce the quantity and type of waste produced. Consequently, we also reduce the amount of virgin materials needed in further building projects. However, the inherent complexity of a building – its scale, material combinations, required lifespan, necessary structural components and rigid fixings make them extremely difficult to deconstruct in a timely and economic manor. This research investigates how these issues may be overcome and how a mainstream residential dwelling might be re-designed to be easily deconstructed into individual material components for reuse in a timely fashion at the end of its useful life.

 

Part Two: Experimental Methods

(note that the first 5 minutes of the video reiterates information from Part One). 

Part Three: xFrame

A radical proposal for a new type of light timber framed construction in New Zealand driven by the need to reduce waste in the Building Industry. 

A highly efficient expandable modular structural plywood system (xFrame) has been developed to enable the direct reuse of all building components. This structural system facilitates material reuse and reduces waste by allowing building linings, services and cladding's to be layered independently - effectively eliminating the need for adhesives and single use fixings. The structure is expandable, self spanning and allows all components of a building to be mechanically fastened. The proposed Modular Plywood Structure is self bracing - i.e. it is designed to inherently resist earthquake loads. It is also discontinuous - made up of timber sections no longer than 1.2m. This enables for effortless, safe and cost effective transport and assembly. Furthermore the structure relies on only 3 main elements - resulting in a simple and easily expandable geometry.

For construction updates please visit the blog

Ged Finch NZIA Architecture Waste.jpg
This sophisticated study, borne of an impressive amount of research and analysis, is motivated by the need for a solution to a problem of real concern: the reduction of waste in the building industry. Through trial, error and a willingness to experiment, Gerard has extended and built upon an existing body of knowledge and worked through many of the complexities required for a circular construction economy. It is to be hoped that this exhaustive work has a continued life beyond this thesis project
— NZIA Judging Panel

The research as presented at the NZIA Student Design Awards in November 2017.