In June 2022, Re-Fabricate ran a weekend of circular retrofit workshops at The Remakery, under the London Festival of Architecture 2022 theme ‘Act’.
Summary of project
Re-Fabricate have been advocating for “waste” reuse for a long time and this time they deemed it important to integrate retrofit in the conversation.
Why is retrofit important? The UK’s thermally leaky housing stock accounts for 21% of our carbon emissions. With fuel bills rising and climate breakdown proceeding at an incredible pace towards us, it is vital that we insulate our homes and buildings to make them warmer, healthier and futureproof for years to come.
Divided over two-days, Re-Fabricate hosted a circular retrofit workshop at The Remakery and introduced retrofit as a growing architectural sector which offers an opportunity to rethink how we treat our construction waste and implement new ways of material reuse.
Re-Fabricate got stuck in straight away on the first day with a series of talks by different industry specialists, including Re-Fab co-founder Tiziana, representing BakerBrown Studio. She discussed their work exploring the implementation of a circular retrofit economy. Re-Fabricate Waste Reuse Challenge alumni and Wowood co-founders Monica and Zoë took us through the testing and prototyping process in developing Wowood and finally, James, founder of Rixon Architecture and ACAN groups coordinator concluded the talks by sharing some completed retrofit projects.
Our host, The Remakery, is a workshop and makers’ space for members of the local community who wish to work within ethical, sustainable/ and circular business models. The Remakery building, a former car park, was refurbished a few years ago for its current use.
The Remakery is now exploring the possibility of retrofitting the space to improve its thermal and acoustic insulation, which will benefit the internal user experience and carbon footprint of the building. The Re-Fabricate workshop was designed with this in mind and asked participants to develop circular retrofit insulation interventions suitable for the space.
Team Re-Fab and The Remakery made available a whole suite of reclaimed and natural materials to experiment with and use to test their properties including cork, fabrics, sheep wool, timber fibre, sawdust, plastic and more. Some were mechanically fixed and others used natural binders. On day 1 the insulation was built into small frames with chosen materials and combinations tested in larger frames on day 2.
To conclude the experiment, Re-Fabricate carried out a series of acoustic and thermal tests, including the hot potato test, which measured the heat lost from a baked potato over a period of time when put in an insulated space.
The weekend was rounded up with a discussion with What if Lambeth, a local community group and industry retrofit specialists.
Summary of reuse component
- Sheep wool
- Timber fibre
- Off-cut wood frames
Summary of engagement
Re-Fabricate put the project through the LFA channels so that it gained visibility. Actively outreaching to architecture schools around London and engaged with the local community, collaborating with groups such as What If Lambeth.
They designed the workshop to include other industry professionals too, so that they could lead on other aspects of workshops. These included retrofit specialists and material developers.
The workshops were really enjoyed by the participants, by the end there was a strong feeling of collaboration, and many exchanged contact details for future projects together, which is exactly Re-fabricate’s aim: spread awareness and connect like minded individuals.