SlowBuild is anchored in the philosophy of creatively engaging with existing building stock to construct modern, sustainable and efficient living spaces. Reclaimed material requires a huge amount of vision and sweat equity to work it up to the point of installment and re-use. By using salvage, SlowBuild creates jobs for local workers and craftsmen, while turning away from building with any “new” material – a strategy to decrease our already impressive footprint on this earth.
The SlowBuild movement, started by Greensaw Design & Build in the city of Philadelphia, is the culmination of four years of reclaiming material from the east coast. Our flagship project, SlowBuild 1205, demonstrates the ways in which both raw and value-added material can come together to form a house. The goal is to use as little material as possible, while prizing ingenuity in an effort to solve design problems. Whenever material is used, it is either reclaimed from the original deconstruction of the house, or culled from another deconstruction from around the city.
While new green materials are appreciated, SlowBuild believes the greenest approach is to re-use what’s already available. Instead of adding more space, we re-vision the use of the existing space – refinishing the basement and removing all dividing walls. Local craftsmen lend their expertise. SlowBuild prizes a meeting of the minds, hard work, and thoughtful, careful consideration of all material. Each piece – whether it be framing from movie sets, or a reclaimed sink – has its own story. In other words, material is not divorced from the means of production – instead the means of production creates meaning in the material itself.
Naturally, with the vestiges of the industrial age and dense population growth, the east coast offers the greatest amount of architectural salvage. There’s no reason a World War II tugboat in Alaska can’t also go onto the operating table. Which is the second chapter of the SlowBuild story – SlowBuild Adak. Read more about it on the blog.