Studio Waste

Studio lead: Mark Parsons


We are realising that we are gradually being poisoned and overwhelmed by the environmental effects of our discarded objects, whilst at the same running out of the raw materials required to create new ones. The extraction of raw materials, and the disposal of waste are often highly exploitative and dangerous processes that disproportionately affect the poor, and in many cases effectively continue colonial practices.

We will explore the concept of waste (and value) through a series of lenses from the idea of buildings as repositories of materials, catalogued for reuse with material passports, to the memories and stories associated with fragments and the transferal of meaning.

We will test what can be calculated and quantified, and where these values are more intangible – for example in the Roman era, the practice of reusing of architectural fragments (known as spolia) was in part driven by a scarcity of resources, but also conferred the meaning and prestige associated with them on new buildings.

Our sites will be in Sheffield in Beighton and Gleadless - both sites with council tips, with the former being disused mining and but a historic landfill site, and the latter having an ancient woodland and a seminal housing estate, now falling into disrepair (and recently the focus of a master planning exercise carried out by URBED and commissioned by Sheffield City Council).

The studio will initially examine waste through mapping resource flows in the Sheffield City Region, exploring this on a range of scales from building demolition and refuse collection to fly tipping and the household.

We will explore barriers to re-use, cycles of growth and decay, principles of circularity and what this means for buildings and space. We will use the studio as place to explore our own practices, and collectively explore the approaches of others, looking at frameworks such as circularity and cradle-to-cradle thinking and working in an interdisciplinary way with artists, engineers and activists.