Thousands of visitors flocked to London's Ecobuild last week, the world's biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. One of the event's highlights was Kingston University's unique display of sustainability-led products, technologies and ideas that examined the people and stories behind the projects as much as their outcome.
Our 'design-led sustainability' stand was co-ordinated by Enterprise Support and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) and centred around Rematerialise, the sustainable materials library and online catalogue of eco-friendly materials for use in the construction industry. Rematerialise is based on research initiated in 1994 by Jakki Dehn, Reader in Sustainable Design (FADA). Jakki said the event confirmed the need for this unique physical materials resource:
"The exhibition was an opportunity to test the potential interest in the wider collection and the response was international and overwhelming. Enquiries ranged from wanting help with building a log cabin to construction companies keen for more information on roof tiles and scaffolding planks and materials companies wanting to include their products within the library and work with our students."
Senior Research Fellow Dr Paul Micklethwaite (FADA) said that, academically, Kingston is a leader in sustainability research: "Kingston academics and students are using design to drive, and critique, the sustainability agenda and discussion is critical to exploring the meaning of sustainability. Design is broad – it's as much about trying to design behaviour change as it is about designing chairs." To encourage discussion, Paul hosted 'Talking Shop' – a series of hourly workshops, debates and demonstrations that explored the challenges of sustainability.
Activities included a live game of 'Eco-Construction Trumps' played with cards designed to educate players about sustainable use of materials, developed by PhD researcher and part-time FADA lecturer John Clarke, and discussions on topics such as 'Is sustainability about behaviour more than technology?' and 'What does sustainability mean to you?'
Another highlight was the recycled-merino-wool rugs crocheted live by Product and Furniture Design BA(Hons) graduate Charlotte Jenkinson. Charlotte designed special gloves to felt waste sheep's wool for her chunky rugs, which she crochets using a bespoke supersized crochet hook and foot-high ball of recycled sheep's wool.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg hosted a reception at the event and said he was impressed with the way sustainability touched the whole University. "Thinking about sustainability is relevant to virtually everything that happens in a university. Our presence at Ecobuild involves activities across faculties, show that what Kingston is doing is relevant for the future, and should make us think about how we research and educate for the next decades of the 21st century."
For more information, watch an interview with our new VC at Ecobuild: