The Tool Shed


School of Design | Interior Design •
Student | Kelli McGrath

Sustainability is directly related to architecture and the built environment through materiality and reuse. As designers, we can choose materials that are sustainable. However, we can also actively think of ways to reuse buildings and materials for creative purposes to reduce the amount of energy and carbon dioxide emissions that result from building construction. In addition to larger-scale initiatives, like creating regulations and building codes that require using renewable energy, designers can work at a smaller scale to consider the materials we are sourcing. I am a strong advocate of Adaptive Re-use projects because rather than tearing down an existing building to build an entirely new one, designers can work with an existing shell to adapt it to fit the current code and program requirements. Creative solutions can be made as to how to adapt the building to make it use renewable energy. The materials can also be reused from parts of the existing that may have been altered.

For many of my studio projects, I have dealt with community centers that revolved around adaptive reuse. For example, for my last studio project, we were asked to adapt the existing SDR park storage building into a community center. We were given desired programs directly from the community members and had meetings with the Stanton Workforce through zoom. For The Tool Shed, I had proposed that the community members donate used and unwanted materials that would then become part of the building. For example, nuts and bolts could become a guardrail post that the community members could design themselves at workshops held at the community center. Wood pallets from a local construction store would become part of the ceiling surface and tile scraps could make a mosaic in the bathroom. Sustainability can be impacted by the larger decisions (codes, etc) but can be benefited from our everyday choices and smaller-scale decisions. The creative-reuse project done before the Studio project, “A Chair…?!”, dealt with creative strategies of repairing old/broken “sites” found around our home to find solutions that can then be applied to the built environment. The flexibility, joyful approach to the repair of the chair led me to the creative materials and flexibility systems in the community center.