RIBA Award for Sustainable Design
Set in an impending scenario wherein retail parks and the associated consumption patterns are no longer viable, and their current infrastructures become obsolete, the project uses Edinburgh’s Craigleith Retail Park as a testbed for a wider strategy that seeks to divert low-value materials and to upcycle them into architectural components. This effectively shifts the site’s focus from a market-driven and car-dominated approach, to one that percolates a philosophy of care, reuse and repair.
Finding value in existing elements on site, the project upcycles the 950 shopping carts found on the premises into ‘gabion-carts,’ utilising their immediate affordances to identify structural, programmatic, environmental and social strategies for the project. These ‘gabion-carts’ are used to construct transformable structural walls that can be climbed, seated on, played with and used to store goods. The modulation and thermal inertia of rubble fill inspires varied articulations of light and the invention of a gabion-cart trombe wall that passively heats the building.
Hacking the retail infrastructure, the proposal strategically juxtaposes existing lightweight steel structures with denser gabion-carts. The ability to ‘grow’ gabion-carts with rubble coming from demolition works prototypes the diversion of low-value material streams, promulgating reuse and upcycling as methodologies for de-growing the built environment.