Towards Sustainable Cities Symposium, at Kew Gardens

Towards Sustainable Cities, Wolfgang Buttress at The Hive, Kew Gardens

Towards Sustainable Cities is an ongoing research programme, quantifying the in-use benefits of aluminium in architecture and the built environment.  Funded by the International Aluminium Institute [IAI], the programme is being undertaken by Michael Stacey Architects with KieranTimberlake and the Architecture and Tectonics Research Group [ATRG] of The University of Nottingham, UK.

Aluminium and Durability

The durability of aluminium is probably one of the most important qualities of this metal when used to form architecture and infrastructure.  This book charts over 100 years of the use of aluminium in architecture and the built environment using 50 built works from 1895 to 1986, with four historic exemplars being inspected and presented in depth.  Twelve twentieth-century award-winning and historically significant aluminium-based buildings were inspected, leading to the successful non-destructive testing of aluminium finishes on three of these projects.

Aluminium Recyclability and Recycling

Aluminium is almost infinitely recyclable and this is well understood. This research identifies that aluminium-based projects dating back to 1950 that have been disassembled have all been recycled. 1950 is the first year of entries in IAI’s global mass flow model. The research reviews the reasons why buildings are demolished and rates of material recovery at the end of use. Key examples of short life and relocatable architecture are set out, alongside the future role of Design for Disassembly [DfD]. This research also identifies that there is a much wider up take of cast aluminium components in architecture than may have been expected.

Aluminium and Life Cycle Thinking

Life cycle thinking challenges architects, engineers and contractors to be mindful of the life history of any manufactured product and more specifically, to understand the inputs (energy and water) and outputs (emissions to the environment) that result from the transformation of matter into product and from product to disposal. This report uses Life Cycle Assessment, a modelling method, to quantify and compare the environmental impacts and benefits associated with aluminium building components to those associated with alternative materials.

Aluminium: Flexible and Light Part 1 and Part 2

The penultimate research report in the Towards Sustainable Cities series takes an in depth look at the light quality of aluminium which may appear to be less obviously apparent in architecture and the built environment, when compared to aerospace and transportation. Lightness is considered in two ways – firstly, in that it provides high performance components, such as windows and curtain walling that are light in weight. And secondly, visually, providing architecture that is light and slender to look at. 

Aluminium: Sympathetic & Powerful - coming soon!

An invited audience of architects, designers, engineers, artists, fabricators and aluminium industry leaders were all brought together at the Towards Sustainable Cities Symposium, which was held in Kew Gardens, London, in October 2016.  Audience views on the use of aluminium in durable, recyclable, sustainable buildings will form part of this final report, which will be available soon.

To take a look at the Symposium and Professor Michael Stacey’s interview with Wolfgang Buttress, discussing The Hive, an impressive award-winning aluminium installation currently at Kew Gardens, please see the videos to your left.