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Cultures, Communities and Design

Micro Project - Macro Subjects: Waste and reuse as strategy for renewal at the urban edge.
I. Hay.
8:00 am - 10:00 am


This paper investigates the importance of interrogating the notion of waste and sustainable design at urban edges, through exploration of a case study. The University of Hertfordshire is in Hatfield; a London edge, with complexity of greenbelt, suburbia, New Town and sprawl. Is there a tactical way to repurpose materials and places at the edges of cities, and can small design interventions contribute? An interactive bench was conceived at the University, for the London Festival of Architecture, as a commentary on assumptions about waste, and to highlight the need to reuse materials. The timber-based installation showcased what can be done by reusing discarded materials. The focus was to collect water bottles from park visitors, measure them, and provide seating. It was hoped busy commuters and visitors would pause at lunchtime to consider how they might directly impact the environment though their plastic use. It was temporarily installed at London Bridge South Bank, a festival venue, which welcomes many visitors in the Summer. The project is made up of two component types. One, a frame, measures bottles, demonstrating amount single use plastic consumed in a period. The second, a series of benches, interlock for support, but also allow for sitting and reflecting on the amount of plastic used. Components are approximately 98% recycled material, and made to be reassembled for future deployment. In the installation’s new home in Old Hatfield, where it has been donated, it is hoped it will continue to contribute to an ongoing discussion by residents and the University, about repurposing materials and also how it can contribute to reinvigorating an existing place. In the age of Covid, outdoor amenities are of value. In an age of climate change, contributed to by manufacturing and production, responsible material use is also important. This micro-sized project, seeks to address macro-issues.


Ilona Hay is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire (UH), in the School of Creative Arts. She is currently Year 2 MArch. Leader and Year 2 BA Arch. Leader. Originally from Vancouver, her background encompasses experience in both the private architectural sector and teaching in higher education. She is a qualified architect- a Member ARB and RIBA with over 20 year’s professional experience. She is the Director of Texere Studio Architecture. She is an Examiner at the ARB, and a Professional Examiner for the Bartlett Part 3. Ilona is a member of the Centre for Future Societies Research and the Architecture Research Group at UH. She has specialized in the interconnection of Design and Technology, with a focus on making and building. She develops making-based practice, working with sustainable Live Projects. Research includes pedagogy and Live Projects, the micro-urban, and maximising space utility. Her portfolio and research includes over fifty Live Projects, in the UK and Canada. The Woodland Seating project, a collaboration with the Mark Fitzpatrick Nature Reserve and Oxford Brookes students, was shortlisted for the Camden Design Awards. The interactive Pause project, recipient of a Canada-UK seed grant, was exhibited at the London Festival of Architecture.