The links between historic preservation and sustainability are clear and make dandy bumper sticker slogans. Whether you prefer “Historic Preservation: The Ultimate Recycling” or “The Greenest Building is the One Already Built,” the point is the same. Rehabilitating historic structures harnesses the embodied energy of buildings.
It’s a fact, however, that historic structures are tragically demolished (even here in Savannah) and the salvage and sale of architectural antiques is a profitable business. But what happens when the doomed structure is from the more recent past? What can be done with building parts that are not likely to be displayed in an antique store?
Enter the Emergent Structures Project, which is finding new uses for the 1940s vintage houses of Strathmore Estates.
The goal is to coordinate the salvage, and distribution of as much of the building materials as possible, and to record the numerous innovative re-use projects that transpire over the ensuing year. Site-visits, interviews and photo documentation of individual projects will be conducted to record the process.
A “Building Materials Harvest Day” was held Nov. 7, during which “Pioneer Harvesters” posed with signs that proclaimed their plans for the materials. Along with the “Offgrid Kitchen” idea on the right, harvesters also identified sculptural gardens, drafting tables and picture frames among the projects for which the materials would be used. Items reclaimed were described as “non-structural” and included shelves, cabinets, interior doors and loose lumber. Additional reclamation days are planned during, but have not yet been announced.