On the network: De-constructlab

Workshop: Climate Activating
Organizers : Alex Roemer, Adrian Schefer
Guest experts: Klasse Klima
Date: 29/10/22
Location: Germany, online

Screwing things together is fun – but what about unscrewing them? Sorting the screws? Dealing with what to do next with the pieces, upcycling and preparing them for a second life? Thinking of the after usage of the construction site, constructing in a way that is fair to future users, having in mind that de(construction) requires energy. And that energy is finite.
Questions and considerations about sustainability are getting more and more important to our practice, more and more pressing in the face of the global climate crises we are all dealing with these days.

In the workshop Climate Activating (which was part of the digital symposium On the network), we discussed the topic with an interested and engaged crowd, aiming to learn more about what each and one of us can do to improve the sustainability of our projects. In addition, an important aspect of the conversation was to understand what demands we need to formulate collectively to improve the framework of design and construction processes regarding climate protection.
Experts on the matter were Polly Bruchlos and Alisa Tretau from Klasse Klima. The self-organized, interdisciplinary student-collective based at the University of Arts Berlin is dealing with the urgency of the climate crisis in creative education. They shared their strategies and findings on climate activating with us.

Having us invited to think big, Polly and Alisa raised questions such as:

What is the responsibility of design, especially structural design in our society?
How to think about transferability globally?
How to implement social-just and intersectional aspects into our practice?
What about the politics of deconstruction?
Where does politics not support us enough?

Support in dealing with these questions came in the form of a digital questionnaire presented by Polly and Alisa. It addressed the ideas, conditions, success and wishes related to sustainable design processes and was a great way to get some initial thoughts on the leverage effects of them.

Here you can find the results of one of the questionnaires, which represents the different dimensions of our conversation:

having a Constructlab forest where the wood is consciously taken (3)
Making new projects with the materials of old projects and seeing how far / how many we can do… (1)
have a storage where you can re-use built elements (1)
Build up a Constructlab-wood (1)
second-hand hardware stores (1)
connect the local community to take action (0)
resources exchange network (0)
involving existing networks and municipalities not to make everything always new (0)
Have an online overview about tools to share (0)
having a certain help-desk where people can give you better alternatives for what you want : with knowledge and background info (0)

political funds not just for building but also for deconstruction? (2)
have independent funding aside from municipality (1)
tools to estimate the climate impact of a project (1)
not necessarily building (0)
better sourcing materials (0)

locally sourced materials (2)
Design things with the circular economy in mind (1)
creating an ecosystem of care around spaces (gardens, parks, streets, neighbourhoods,..) (0)
build with reusable material (0)

sharing platform for tools and transportation (2)
enough time for planning and organizing (1)
change the global mentality that forces every decision (1)
learning straw and earth construction (1)
ecological paint, to make the wood last longer – outside (1)
no new material anymore (1)
recycled materials should be for free (1)
climate conditions first (0)
well functioning public transport system (0)
a machine to sort screws (0)
taking time for a \”climate\” diagnosis of the situation before acting on it (0)

Dealing with the questionnaire made it clear how important it is to think about the afterlife of a project – even before it begins – to develop autonomous structures, establish collaborative networks and persistently activate the political support this enormously significant topic requires.

Climate Activating was part of the Workshop series that flanked the digital symposium On the network and the launch of the new digital networking platform and was supported by the Fond Soziokultur with funds from the Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR.

Drawing by Alex Lambert

'On the network' symposium: workshop on 'Climate Activating'