Urban Mining

RoofKIT’s primary sustainability concept is urban mining from existing building materials as a carbon sink. The concept is a response to tackle the constant depletion of finite natural resources for the building sector and to reduce energy embedded in the extraction and transportation process. The materials’ reuse and recycling through urban mining as well as the implementation of natural and cultivated materials are mandatory to preserve resources. Urban mining goes even one step beyond when the urban building stock is taken as the main construction material supply for the construction of new buildings. Therefore, the design process includes not only the direct use of resources but plan for being a supply source in the future. Consequently, the urban mining concept becomes the paradigm for both: material and energy supply for RoofKIT.

The project underpinned the idea that the resources required to construct a building must be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable, placing life cycle thinking at the forefront of the design. Thus, the normal cycle of usage and disposable transforms into borrowing and recirculation of resources. Such an approach makes reusing and repurposing of materials just as important as recycling and upcycling them (both at a systemic and a molecular/biological level).

RoofKIT will explore the use of alternative cultivated building materials such as mushroom mycelium or bamboo fibres as replacements for finite mineral and metallic materials. The intention is to incorporate new products from long-standing partners into the design for the very first time. Highlighting in this way, that urban mining can radically shift the construction system, even the energy systems.

Urban mining approach will focus, as far as possible, on the existing urban environment in Wuppertal as the main material stock for construction and energy generation for RoofKIT project. Students will identify local materials and (building) components directly in Wuppertal at the beginning of the design process to avoid long transportation emission and promote the contextual urban mine. The use of recycled materials and components will also include – as far as possible – the solar panels.