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Mortal Coil: Asbestos the burden, strife and suffering of the world

Part 2 Project 2012
Joe Crinion
Northumbria University Newcastle upon Tyne UK
The proposal addresses national and international issues of asbestos use and disposal. Once considered a 'magic material' and consequently widely utilized in the construction industry and beyond for its heat resistant properties, asbestos is now recognized as a hazardous and deadly product, and responsible for asbestosis and lung disease. Many redundant buildings have therefore been left derelict due to safety concerns involving exposure to asbestos fibres. Removal and disposal of the material leads to yet further problems due to safe disposal and encasement difficulties. Escalating landfill costs, coupled with an estimate that landfill sites will reach full capacity within eight years, leaves a worrying future as 75% of the existing building stock in the UK still harbours asbestos.

These urgent issues of asbestos disposal inform this design proposal for a facility that converts asbestos into inert and useful products. Located on a post-industrial site on a bank of the river Tyne, the proposed facility is centred in a regi¬on that has the highest incidence of asbestos related diseases rates in the UK, as a legacy of the heavy industries that were once the industrial heart of the region.

New production methods safely recycle asbestos fibres into both silicate glass and traditional ceramics through a thermal treatment process of heating the waste at temperatures of 1250°C. This project also educates the public about asbestos, its history and applications, and this new conversion process. The production of glass and ceramics showcases creative new uses for asbestos waste, feeding it into a ‘craft college’ and thus providing a cost effective education to glass and ceramic crafts. The artworks produced are exhibited in exhibition towers located alongside the Tyne, connecting the treatment facility to the art and cultural corridor of the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides. This facility also highlights the lost history of Newcastle upon Tyne’s world renowned glass manufacturing industries of the 17th century, allowing visitors to engage with the art of glassmaking and extending the cultural corridor of the Quayside. One of the towers that derives its language from incinerators and ship-like forms on the Tyne, houses a Chapel and a

Joe Crinion

Mr Paul Jones
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