IMAGE CREDITS : MatterSite©
At Driven we are currently incubating 3 different projects implementing circular economy principles in challenging alternative propositions using advanced technology. We asked the MatterSite team some questions about their incubated project to digitalize the building environment.
Mattersite is an international group of architects and designers who began collaborating in the Masters in Robotics and Advanced Construction (MRAC) at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC). Currently, we have members developing the technology within their MRAC thesis project, as well as working in digitalization, industrial design, construction technology, and architecture. We started collaborating with a common goal, transforming the construction sector into a more respectful and sustainable practice. We believe that through the application of new technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and computational design we can change present design, fabrication, and material workflows into circular ones. Therefore, several research projects were carried out to demonstrate, in different phases of the value chain, how this paradigm shift could take place: Material (data) Intelligence, Post Collation Design Exploration, Fluxsight, and Digitizing Material Collation.
As we began adapting our projects and goals from our Master’s work into a real-world venture, we needed a partner in the existing circular economy landscape; incubating with Driven was a clear way to connect and work with actors in the Circular Economy within the European market.
What are the problems you are challenging?
At present, the construction industry is the ‘number one consumer of global raw materials”, while being one of the biggest producers of waste in the EU, where it accounts for approximately ‘25%- 30% of all waste generated”. The building sector is facing a waste management issue compounded by a near-future resource scarcity problem; with many critical construction materials dependent on non-renewable or unsustainable resources. In light of this, there are increasing efforts to connect the demolition waste stream directly back as a new construction source, and bringing the circular material flow principles to the building sector. Framework projects and organizers such as Buildings as Material Banks in Germany, and Ressource City in Denmark have been started to organize actors, study the economic landscape, and create policy recommendations to further these efforts.
Within this field, we aim to bring digitization and automation technologies to expand the capabilities and scale of the material reuse programs presented above. Our technology uses a system of reality capture and analysis methods to identify and locate critical materials on deconstruction sites, to better inform the owners and demolition companies. Each site is captured as a complete three dimensional point cloud, from which we analyze volumes and accessibility, and specific photographic imagery, which we use to locate and inspect the quality of specific materials. These results are collated into easily searchable databases to help owners, demolition teams, and new builders understand exactly the value of each building.
Given the many connections between these various stakeholders, many current companies working in this field focus on a specific part of this chain of information. For instance, groups like Building Material Scout start with the designers, providing consultation and planning tools for using sustainable and reused products. At the construction level, Opalis in Belgium has created a platform to be used by the administrator and builder, to connect projects with suppliers and retailers providing these materials, as well as documentation on their usage. One such supplier is Rotor DC, which offers its own online marketplace for materials deconstructed by their own workers or by selected partners.
Current work in this sector is bounded by several primary concerns- reliance on manual inspection and analysis, use of some automation that lacks generalizability, or a process that’s highly regional. Current analysis of a site is often carried out by visual inspection, along with assumptions about recovery and reuse viability. Similarly, the variability and clutter present in worksites make it difficult for elements to be reliably digitized while avoiding noise. Lastly, location, storage and transport are critical to use these processes in a cost effective manner. Creating a database of sufficient scope and depth is critical to both connecting each material with a consumer, while ensuring these connections are as close as possible.
Mattersite is currently iterating on prototypes to test and verify the technology, and will shortly begin testing on real-world sites! We are looking for relevant and motivated demolition groups to partner with and pilot in the near future. We can provide precise quantitative estimations of material that are crucial for waste management. This data can help downstream actors calculate logistics needed, costs, material value, and plan separation operations easier and faster. The objective is to develop a holistic and replicable solution that creates a new value chain and supports sustainable business models for construction waste reduction.
Providing metrics on digitized materials stored in obsolete buildings is also crucial to create awareness on resource availability and work towards moving the construction sector into its full circular potential.
Data acquisition x Circular Economy
DRIVEN is operated by VOLUMES Creative and Productive Hub in Paris.
Volumes is partner of EU Horizon 2020 Reflow Project, which is focusing on co-creating circular resource flows in cities.
Within this context, Volumes is selecting specific ideas and initiatives that can respond to the Reflow challenges. During the current call for projects, the board of experts at Volumes will select 2 special projects which will have free of charge access to a specific track of the DRIVEN incubation program called DRIVEN x REFLOW.