Superuse Studios is an international architecture collective for circular and sustainable design.
A design is not considered as the beginning of a linear, but circular process: A phase in a continuous cycle of creation and recreation, use and reuse.
We apply several strategies to make sustainable architecture with reclaimed materials.
Demolishing a building costs a lot of energy, so Superuse's strategy is to reuse an entire building wherever possible. Here, we do not only mean renovating, but we often work on a complete change of function. Of course with the preservation of as many valuable parts of the old building as possible.
The supporting structure is always the starting point. Within the preconditions of load-bearing capacity and dimensions, we look for the optimal layout for the required programme. Where necessary, we make breakthroughs for the benefit of routing or add floors if the height allows. Often, a new entrance provides better access to all functions and creates a place that can give an identity to the new use.
We keep all installations for heating and electricity separate from other built-in parts according to the layer model of Stewart Brand, so that maintenance is easy and future changes are possible. By thinking in terms of layers with different lifespans, we literally create a layered building. The readability of the functions is enhanced, because by making the technology and the supporting structure visible, the flows (power lines, electricity, water) become more legible. If necessary, zoning of climate zones can contribute to strategic insulation instead of the entire building.
In Art Zaanstad it is easy to see how the column structure has determined the layout of the space and the size of the moveable exhibition walls. The colour scheme of the walls and structure has been maintained and expanded with a quiet palette of mainly black and white tones. The new entrance provides a clear public entrance.
Circular building requires an integral approach from the ambition phase to realisation. Central to this is the design, in which Superuse as architect works together with partners and the client as a design team on a Dynamic Final Design. In addition to the usual drawings, this consists of a harvest map that shows the origin of the materials and a dynamic bill of materials that dissects the design into all architectural components.
With the dynamic bill of materials, the ambitions formulated by the client and architect and the preconditions from the schedule of requirements can be observed in all phases of the process. In addition to costs, the ecological footprint in CO2eq, for example, is a possible steering tool, or the percentage of bio-based material that will be used.
The project's harvest map is fed by all sources known to us and to select materials we use the decision tree that helps to limit CO2 emissions. The preference is to work with re-used materials, where available and applicable.
Ultimately, we hand over the design with the bill of materials to the contractor as a shopping list. The purchasing list and the design are based on this in order to achieve a circular realisation. If possible, this can also be done in a construction team, in which the client, architect and contractor work closely together.
After delivery, all applied materials are bundled in a material passport. This is a digital representation of dynamic elements, which ultimately can be traced back to raw material level. During its lifetime, the passport helps with decision-making on the building's maintenance. In 50+ years, it can serve as a source for the supply side of reusable materials.
In material-driven design, the architect is inspired and guided by available reusable materials.
We assume high-quality reuse.
This means that the material can be used again in its original function or in a higher one without much processing.
In the concept or sketch design phase, the reusable material with all its characteristic properties (such as size, shape, colour, weather resistance, durability) serves as inspiration. Sometimes the actual material is already known, other times Superuse works with materials that experience has shown will become available.
In the latter case, the search for available reusable materials starts after a preliminary design. A final design with details and measurements follows after certainty about the purchase of rest lots. It must be possible to modify the design right up to the final phase. That is why Superuse speaks of a Dynamic Final Design. This is only possible with good cooperation between architect, contractor and client.
When the design is fixed and the search is on for specific suitable used materials, the chance of success is smaller.
The Blade Made projects by Superuse are a good example of material driven design. The characteristics of wind turbine blades are optimally utilised by the newly chosen applications. The shape of the blades lends itself for an ergonomic seating object as applied in REwind and Wikado. The shape of the blades also allows, after a few simple interventions, to create very diverse and imaginative play elements for children to climb on or in. The material of the blades is robust, weatherproof and vandal-proof, ideal for a playground or outdoor furniture.