Sarah Gunawan, University of Waterloo, School of Architecture, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Material Eco/Systems: Prototypes for Ecologically Enmeshed Material Assemblies in Suburban Construction
Despite efforts at all levels of government to curb unsustainable sprawl, the peripheral suburbs of Ontario’s major cities are growing faster than anywhere else in Canada. These suburbs are typically constructed with inexpensive methods and materials, resulting in an abundance of low-quality, short lifespan housing stock. The inevitable degradation of suburban materials creates a porous building envelope that allows microorganisms, vegetation and animals to occupy the periphery of single-family houses. Moisture leaks into basements enabling mold growth, plants colonize cluttered rain gutters blocking drainage, and raccoons access warm attics through deteriorating asphalt shingles. Suburban homeowners perceive this process negatively because it puts downward pressure on their property value. But what if the degradation and transformation of suburban building materials could be designed to create value for both humans and ecological systems across scales?