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Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2016

Culum Osborne November 4, 2016
Cultural Sustainablity

video by metrovancouver

Bing Thom Architects was pleased to attend Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Conference, an annual opportunity for conversation between local and international elected officials, representatives from various industries, and the public.

A highlight for many attendees was the visionary keynote presentation from architect, designer and researcher Neri Oxman, which described a bold path forward for designers towards a circular economy. Oxman argued that contemporary design has been subjugated by modern manufacturing limitations, framing architecture as an “assembly of parts with discreet functions”  – using pioneering concepts such as “parametric chemistry” and “FIM (Fabrication Info Modeling)”, Oxman’s research at MIT explores design at chemical and biological scales with the goal of producing “endlessly multifunctional” construction materials for environmental design.

Bing Thom was originally scheduled to contribute to the conference before his unexpected passing. Bing Thom Architects was honoured to see Bing’s life and incredible achievements recognized by Metro Vancouver. Architectural critic and curator Trevor Boddy also spoke on Bing’s legacy in his introduction to the final panel discussion, celebrating Bing’s early recognition of the value of the retention and reuse of existing buildings in BTA’s work on the Central City Surrey project.

The final panel, The Built Environment, zoomed in on the high material cost of the built economy, which is estimated to account for one third of global waste. Sudhir Suri of L’Oeuf Architects encouraged designers to reject the linearity of traditional construction – “there is no upstream,” while Josh Taron of the Laboratory for Integrative Design at the University of Calgary questioned why buildings were still constructed to be demolished in the same destructive, waste-generating methods as those built 100 years before, and advised architects to reduce building parts and eliminate glues and adhesives.

Metro Vancouver Board of Directors chair Greg Moore noted at the conference’s outset that the ideas presented at past conferences have informed the association’s policy decisions; it will be exciting to see how this year’s inspiring exchanges and dialogue influence future initiatives.