Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stolen art watch

Drouot, Paris France

A DROUOT auctioneer and eight commission agents were given preliminary charges, including organized theft, with three others released with no charges, in Paris police raids on Drouot, its warehouses and homes of employees. A stolen Courbet painting was found at the home of one of the commission agents. Other pieces seized in the sweep included artworks, frames and furniture.

art hostage

Salvage yard fined for asbestos cement roof sheets

Ipswich, Suffolk UK

Following reports that Edward Thomas Webster had been storing waste illegally at his yard in Thorington, Suffolk two agency officers inspected his premises. They found pallets with materials such as cleaned bricks, roof tiles, wood and old beams, however in one field they saw a large pile of asbestos roofing sheets. Mr Webster, who trades as Preservation in Action, has pleaded guilty at Ipswich Magistrates Court to dumping chrysotile asbestos and not having the right papers for dealing with potentially fatal material.


Reuse is the new recycling - government can and should create a new reuse agenda

Sustainable construction experts have published new research showing that the amount of building material being reclaimed has declined and that reclamation is in fact becoming more difficult in the UK. Ironically, over the past two decades, the Government's own policy has been hindering reuse, although they now claim that reclamation and reuse is higher on the agenda.

Pushing Reuse commissioned by BioRegional, and written by Thornton Kay of Salvo Llp, looks directly at this problem.

Jonathan Essex said, "Pushing Reuse clearly shows the benefits that reuse brings over recycling. For example, if we reclaimed 50 percent of reusable construction iron and steel the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking 29,000 cars off the road - and that's for just one material. Yes, reclamation is currently more labour intensive than recycling which makes it more expensive, but it creates green jobs and products that often have a higher value than recycled - for instance reclaimed bricks are worth much more than bricks recycled by being crushed to form recycled aggregate".

The full text of Pushing Reuse

Also see the Webinar on Pushing Reuse on 3 Feburary 2010

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monument demolition kills two in Georgia

Kutaisi, Georgia - A mother and child have been killed by flying debris from the demolition of a 150ft high Soviet World War II memorial. The monument has been removed to make way for new Parliamentary buildings.

Granville County, USA - Habitat for Humanity's Restore in Granville County offer this message

Christmas Cards - don't bin them!

We all know there must be loads of things you can do with Christmas cards after they have spent a few weeks making us feel christmassy and getting dusty on the shelf. Obviously the best thing is to cut them up a bit and use for next years cards, but if you are feeling a bit more creative there's a load more ideas on the web, including this star...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Time for the government to listen to reuse

Steve Tomlin discusses the outcome of his meeting at the House of Commons on his blog (see link below). Unfortunately after his meeting at Whitehall which held so much promise, sadly there was no mention in any literature, posters or speeches about Reuse and Reclamation.

Steve asks if the authorities will wake up to Reuse and Reclamation? He calls for the reclamation trade to "lobby to convince politicians that they are directed into a policy cul-de-sac that solves nothing. We need to remove subsidy to the demolishers and recyclate industry and redirect priorities away from incineration as a central plinth of our campaigns for Environmental Sustainability. There will be a case for crushing and burning, but only on the margins if we are to recover the full carbon value of scarce materials," said Steve.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Architectural salvage owner sues mayor

Wavely, Tennesse USA

A civil lawsuit has been filed against the mayor of Waverly over a confrontation in July. “He is suing ... for a battery both in [Bostic’s] personal and official capacity in two counts of the complaint against Mr Bostic,” said Lowder’s attorney, Michael A. Hankins of Jacksonville.

Police were called to the scene following a report accusing Mr Bostic pushing Lowder during an argument that ensued after the mayor told Lowder he could not use public streets and sidewalks to dismantle boards and recondition building materials.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Mini structures from repurposed throwaways

San Francisco, USA

Golden Gate Express exhibit, a miniature steam train that rolls through a miniature San Francisco, complete with Coit Tower, TransAmerica Pyramid Building, Golden Gate Bridge and the Conservatory of Flowers. These mini structures are all made from repurposed throwaways found in a skip. The Ghirardelli clock tower is made with old chocolate brown light switch plates; 1,000 computer keys stud the TransAmerica Pyramid, and Coit Tower is made with plumbing supplies, tape measures and mini blinds.


Creative reuse

Dutch designer Jo Meesters has a sustainable and handmade approach to his work. His new collection is made entirely out of 34 discarded wooden beams and 16 left over blankets. Entitled Odds and Ends, Bits and Pieces, the collection uses basic upholstering and weaving techniques.

apartment therapy

The cultural demolition of Kashgar, China

Kashgar, Xinjiang province China

According to Chinese officials Kashgar must be destroyed because of its susceptibility to earthquakes. Kashgar is one of the best preserved traditional Islamic cities in central Asia. Many of the families will be offered apartments in high-rise buildings. In place of the old city, the Chinese plan to erect apartments, plazas and avenues lined with reproductions of ancient Islamic architecture, which they say will help "preserve Uighur culture." Families have been offered cash bonuses if they move out early - $30 for those who vacate within 20 days; $15 if they move in a month.

Above: Kashgar's old wall, a 35-ft. berm, meets a billboard promoting a new residential compound.

Above: Dust from demolitions engulfs the ancient city.


IT dumped in developing countries

Computer Weekly claims that IT managers are failing to properly question technology recycling firms, which they employ to dispose of their machines supposedly ethically. Consequently according to reports many thousands of crates of toxic IT waste is reportedly being dumped in developing countries.

"We are finding people saying they have a contract with a refurbishment firm, and this firm has promised it is going to do all sorts of good things," said Adrian Harding, policy advisor at the Environment Agency. "But they never check it. The problem is people are taking things on trust - you would not do that when you are buying the equipment. We want people to take as much interest in their end of life equipment as they do on the procurement side."

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive was introduced to reduce the amount of IT waste being sent to landfill. But Tony Roberts, CEO and founder of re-use charity Computer Aid International, said, "The directive has had the positive effect of increasing awareness around IT environmental issues," he said. "But the most significant growth area has actually been the sham re-use companies. The equipment which we hoped would be diverted for re-use has largely been diverted for commercial resale - both by legitimate organisations, but also by the cowboys who pack it into trucks and send it to Africa and India."

Computer weekly

Festivities at Lassco's

Lassco, Brunswick House London
Lassco are inviting people to join them at Brunswick House on Thursday 17th December from 8pm for mince pies, mulled wine and a festive 15 per cent discount.


Peter Mandelson launches a low carbon group

Peter Mandelson has has launched the government’s low carbon construction innovation and growth steering group, which will review the industry’s fitness for reducing carbon emissions.

The group is chaired by Paul Morrell, the newly appointed chief construction adviser. Mr Morrell said, "“Our aim is… to ensure a road map is in place for the industry to play their part in delivering a low carbon future.”

bd online

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sealing the fate of a generation

Copenhagen, climate change summit

The Guardian and 56 other newspapers from around the world have joined together to call for action from the worlds leaders on climate change. A spokes person for The Guardian said, "If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too." As the Copenhagen climate change summit is underway the joint voice of the newspapers ask that the leaders do not blame each other but seize the opportunity to make a difference whether the countries are rich or poor as the outcome will inevitably seal the fate of a generation.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource. Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

The politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. In the meantime, many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

The Guardian

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Phone box reused as libary

Above: The traditional phone box was bought from BT for £1 [photo BBC]

Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset UK

A traditional red phone box has been reused as a library in the village of Westbury-sub-Mendip. The worlds smallest library regularly gives out books, dvds and cds to the local villagers.

A resident dreamed up the idea when the village lost its phone box and mobile library in quick succession. Users simply stock it with a book they have read, swapping it for one they have not. "It's really taken off. The books are constantly changing," said parish councillor Bob Dolby.

So far BT have given over 350 phone boxes to parish councils, these have been transformed into art installations, a shower and even a public toilet.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reuse before recycling

According to the mantra reuse should come before recycling, however, the reuse industry is often overlooked in favour of recycling. The website Treehugger asks if the Government could help to turn around the decline in the reuse of building materials.

The new report, Pushing Reuse (from BioRegional and Thornon Kay of Salvo) argues that reuse has been traditionally overlooked by policy makers, although it offers greater environmental benefits. It suggests that a reuse champion is needed to advocate reuse and potentially set up an incentive scheme for reuse which gives payment for materials diverted from landfill.

Jonathan Essex, Reclaimed Materials Manager at BioRegional said: "Pushing reuse clearly shows the benefits that reuse brings over recycling. For example, if we reclaimed 50% of reusable iron and steel the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking 29,000 cars off the road - and that's for just two materials. Yes, reclamation is currently more labour intensive than recycling which makes it more expensive, but it creates green jobs and products that often have a higher value than recycled - for instance reclaimed bricks are worth much more than bricks recycled into aggregate"

The full text of Pushing Reuse


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Walcot Reclamation moves after 32 years

Walcot Reclamation, Bath UK

Walcot's city center site is closing after 32 years. However, the shop will be retained to allow some pieces to be displayed. Owner Rick Knapp said, "The move makes sense, with the shop acting very much as a taster of what would be on offer at the Bathampton premises. We are focusing on trying to get more people at Bathampton and making more of that rather than spreading ourselves too thin."

This is Bath

Friday, December 04, 2009

Victorian and Albert Museum opens it's new galleries

The Renaissance City Courtyard at the V&A

Victorian & Albert Museum, London UK

The V&A's new Medieval & Renaissance galleries open this December, designed by architects MUMA. The 10 new galleries will showcase its amazing Medieval and Renaissance collections. The £30m new additions fill a whole wing of the museum and contain more than 1800 treasures from AD300 to 1600. The collections chronicle how European art and design changed from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Renaissance era.

The V&A boasts the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy, including pieces by Donatello and Giambologna. The highlights of the new galleries include; Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, Santa Chiara Chapel: the only example of Florentine Renaissance church architecture outside Italy, Choir screen from the Cathedral of St John at 's-Hertogenbosch (1610–13), the Netherlands, The elaborate Gloucester Candlestick (1104-15), The Symmachi Panel: one of the finest surviving ivories from the Late Antique period in Rome.

The V&A is creating innovative new displays which place objects within their original social and cultural context. In a review for the Daily Telegraph, Richard Dorment describes the exhibition: "The 10 contiguous galleries occupying two floors of that vast building on the Cromwell Road feel like a museum within a museum, where every effort is made to give a feel for a church interior or Renaissance study without turning the galleries into a succession of stage sets."

Mark Jones, Director of the V&A, said: ‘For the first time, these new galleries present the V&A’s medieval and Renaissance treasures as continuous displays telling the story of European art and design from the year 300 to 1600. We hope that the new displays, featuring some of the most beautiful and historic objects from our collections, will inspire all our visitors.’

Above: V&A Curator Kirstin Kennedy


Titanic reconstruction

Channel 4 are currently looking for architects and professional in the fields of engineering, design, planning or construction, to take part in a reconstruction of the ill-fated Titanic. The team chosen will have to use traditional Edwardian techniques, machinery and materials to gain an insight in to the problems the original builders would have faced.

The programme will be aired on channel 4, filming will begin in early March 2010 and continue for approximately 12 weeks.


Western Heritage fire under investigation

Teton, Wyoming USA

A fire which swept through part of Teton is currently under investigation by state and local authorities. Fire Chief Mike Hoyle said, "he did not notice any obvious structural damage to the building, but he noted that wood was stacked inside the building to a height that under ordinary circumstances would require fire suppression equipment the building did not have." The building's occupant, a reclaimed lumber business called Western Heritage, was issued a cease and desist order by the County Attorney earlier this year.

Tenton Valley News

Energy efficient buildings: EU lays foundation for buildings of the future but misses towering opportunity to convert buildings of the past

After one year of difficult negotiations with the Council, the European Parliament and the Swedish Presidency reached a political agreement (1) yesterday evening on a text of the energy performance of buildings directive.

Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes commented, "The Greens are very pleased that the EU has laid the foundation for the buildings of the future, but deplore that an opportunity has been missed to boost the renovation of existing structures.

"Our Green concept of "near-zero-energy buildings" has been accepted as the future standard for Europe. After 2020 (2), new buildings will have near zero consumption of energy thanks to requirements to use the latest construction technologies and insulation, with the remaining energy made up from solar and biomass generation. This will spark a green revolution along every link of the chain from architects to construction companies and for every new building, from private home to shopping centre.

"We deplore however that no stringent standards were agreed to renovate existing buildings, which account for 40% of all energy consumption in the EU. The Greens and the European Parliament had called for an ambitious EU building renovation programme to go beyond basic measures and convert inefficient structures into very low energy buildings. This depended on fresh funds from the EU budget to leverage cheap credits for large scale renovation.

Opposition from the EU's newer Member States led Council to reject this initiative. Earlier damage had already by done by Barroso's failure to allocate a single Euro to energy efficiency of buildings in the so-called recovery package. The EU is failing to capitalise on a golden opportunity to create millions of jobs, reduce dependency on energy from beyond its borders and tackle climate change. A better outcome from the negotiations would have definitely led to stronger action. Given that 36% of the EU's CO2 emissions come from the building sector, this would have been a prime area to target to allow the EU to step up its climate commitment from 20% to 30% emissions reductions by 2020."

The Greens

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Government defers PPS15

London UK - THE Government has back-pedalled on the immediate replacement of PPG15 with PPS15 (see Salvo calls for architectural salvage trade to lobby their MPs about a proposed new undemocratic law/rule). They are now reviewing things.

In October 2009 Mark Field, TK's constituency MP for Westminster, kindly sent our comments about PPS15 to Rt Hon John Healey MP for Wentworth and minister of communities and local government (since 2009), who referred the letter to Ian Austin MP for Dudley North and junior minister CLG. He replied to Mark Field confirming that my comments have been registered as a formal response to the consultation on PPS15 and 'will be given careful consideration'. The government will publish their response to the consultation in 2010.

It is important that as many people as possible continue to lobby their MPs about this issue if more is to be saved from demolition.

Salvo calls for architectural salvage trade to lobby their MPs by 30 Oct 09 about a proposed new undemocratic law/rule

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Convivial in Cumbria

Cartmel, Cumbria UK - THE gathering in Cartmel on Friday 27 November 2009, kindly organised by Clive Wilson of WRS, and hopefully the first of an annual event at the Cavendish Arms, was deemed a very pleasant occasion. It was marred only by the devastation wreaked the previous week by the floods further west at Workington and Cockermouth. Some damage was sustained at properties nearer to hand, including Cartmel itself.

Fifteen people attended the evening meal, mostly dealers, several with partners. Dan Hill of Tiger Enterprises in Brighton called in later in the evening having spent a day in the worse hit flood town Cockermouth encouraging reuse of salvageable items from flooded properties. Steve Tomlin left in the morning for a site in Glasgow owned by a prominent plc who have been keeping him busy of late, having contracted Masco to undertake a reclamation audit for each site they redevelop.

A surfeit of jollity and paucity of hard news ensued. One upcoming event that was mentioned was that 27 January is the annual Thomas Crapper day, with 2010 being the centenary year of the great plumber's death. Simon Kirby hoped to hold a graveside vigil at Elmer's End Cemetery in Beckenham, the location of which, to Simon's delight, is a few yards west of the grave of Samuel Shenton (d1971), founder of The Flat Earth Society who explained gravity by stating that the earth disc was moving upwards through space at the rate of 9.8m/sec2, and whose comment about a photo of planet Earth taken from outer space was, "It is easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."

The construction of a bypass two years ago around nearby Low Newton, the home of Wilson Reclamation Services, eliminated passing traffic completely, so Mr Wilson changed tack. WRS is still a vital local source of reclaimed material and architectural salvage, but also now has an upper gallery showcasing the work of local craftspeople together with a new old cafe which was thriving on the Saturday after Friday's meal. He organises events there, of which a forthcoming Christmas fair of the work of dozens of local craftspeople is one example, and does what he can to drum up publicity to help offset the lack of signage alerting bypass traffic to WRS' existence. The bypass has resulted in some other businesses, especially the erstwhile successful folk pub up the road, closing their doors permanently.

Above: Thornton Kay of Salvo takes a tour around Wilson's architectural salvage yard in Cumbria, guided by owner Clive Wilson. The video explores Mr Wilson's vast selection of architectural salvage and other reclaimed items such as an extensive array of door furniture. Also, see local artisans and craftspeople working on site.


Cardboard art

Chris Gilmour is an English artist who specialises in the creation of life-sized sculptures made of recycled cardboard and glue, using both plain packaging cardboard and recycled packaging material. His works replicate in painstaking detail many objects and machines out of our ordinary lives, ranging from objects from daily life.

Chris Gilmour

Daruma-otoshi skyscraper demolition

Tokyo, Japan
Japanese construction firm Kajima Corporation is using an innovative new skyscraper demolition method to dismantle a pair of old company buildings in Tokyo.

Unlike conventional demolition that begins at the top of the building, Kajima’s new method starts on the bottom floor, where the support columns are cut and replaced with giant computer-controlled jacks. Once the floor is demolished and the debris removed, the entire building is lowered and work begins on the next floor. The process is repeated for each floor until the entire building is gone.

According to Kajima, the daruma-otoshi demolition method — which is now being used to dismantle a 75 meter (246 ft) tall, 20-story building and a 65 meter (213 ft) tall, 17-story building — is safer and creates less noise and dust pollution because the work is kept close to the ground. In addition, this method cuts demolition time by 20% and makes it easier to separate materials for reuse and recycling.


Pushing Reuse

BioRegional has worked to push reuse of construction materials since initiating BedZED, the UK’s largest low carbon community. With low carbon industry high on the agenda, BioRegional commissioned Salvo Llp to write Pushing reuse. The hope is that the Government will seize this opportunity to drive investment and enterprise in this neglected green market.

Pushing reuse, towards a low-carbon construction industry, written by Thornotn Kay of Salvo is currently available to download (see link below). The key findings were; reuse is better than recycling, reuse in construction has declined in the past 10 years, policy is not driving reuse, simple policy interventions are available.

The full text of Pushing Reuse


Historical society offers tours of decorated homes

Romeo, Michigan USA

As Christmas approaches the Romeo Historical Society have announced their annual Christmas Homes Tours, with several houses showing off their Christmas decor. The event will take place on the 12 December with two tour times available from 4pm - 7pm and from 6.30pm - 9.30pm, leaving from the First Congregational Church, 102 Church St.


Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art

Sotheby's, New Bond Street London UK
Tue, 8 Dec 09, 10:30 AM

Sotheby's sale of old master sculpture and works of art will include carved, cast and modelled sculpture in marble, wood stone, ivory, bronze and gems by well known named artists as well as anonymous craftsmen from the early medieval period through to Neoclassicism.

Above: A French sixteenth century 'Misericord of a Demon' in wood, estimated at £2,000 - £3,000.

Above: English, Leicestershire, fourteenth century or early fifteenth century example of a gargoyle in limestone. Estimated at £4,000 - £6,000.

Above: Circle of Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), Hercules resting, white marble with a green crystalline stone background. English eighteenth century, estimated at £20,000 - £30,000.

Above: An English thirteenth century or early fourteenth century label stop with a greenman n stone. Estimated at £5,000 - £7,000.

Above: An English thirteenth century red standstone head of a king. Estimated at £3,000 - £5,000.

Sotheby's catalogue

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Stoneage need your help to stop their closure by Enfield Council

Stoneage, Enfield UK

Currently Stoneage are appealing an enforcement notice from Enfield Council who want to close the reclaim yard in Crews Hill, Enfield. Stoneage have been providing reclaimed materials and a full restoration service from their site in Enfield for the past three years and the previous owner also traded for fifteen years in sales and repair of vintage items. Stoneage are asking for your support, sign their petition to stop the closure of their architectural reclaim center.

Email; directly with any support, advice or to be emailed their petition which they will send to you along with a stamped addressed envelope for you to send it back to them.

Stoneage Reclamation & Salvage