headwest is a system that transforms architectural waste to create new sustainable building materials. These materials will be used in the construction of new pre-fabricated homes for the area. All materials will be salvaged, manufactured and sold regionally using local labor, local resources, factories and infrastructure.
Problem Cities in the American Rust Belt (Buffalo, NY as a case study) have lost their vitality as a result of urban flight, suburban sprawl and the changing industrial climate of the United States. This has lead to the vacancy of homes and factories, and the deterioration of surrounding rural communities.
There are few jobs, few incentives for new generations to stay, and little investment coming from the federal government. The decline of these early industrial cities has been accepted a part of our national culture, leaving little room for optimism.
In the near future, these cities will inevitably become vital again due to their wealth of natural resources. There will be few architectural amenities left. New materials will be needed to rebuild what will have been lost. And the people who’ve invested their lives in largely forgotten communities may very well be brushed aside as the region is built over.
Not-For-Profit Collaboration Build It Green! NYC is New York City’s only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. They receive donated salvaged and surplus building materials at their warehouse and are available at a retail level. Their local insight into the kinds and volumes of materials that are salvaged on an urban scale has been invaluable.
Buffalo ReUse is a not-for-profit organization, established in 2006 in response to the City of Buffalo’s plans to demolish 10,000 homes.
They have developed deconstruction as a competitive alternative to the demolition of abandoned housing stock.
Opportunity The city of Buffalo is razing vacant homes at projected rate of 1000 per year. Empty lots spot the landscape. The waste is being thrown into landfills. Because these buildings are torn down recklessly, they require very few people. No employment opportunities are given back to the community.
Groups like Buffalo ReUse are now helping to curb the amount of demolition waste by deconstructing the homes such that material can be salvaged and resold. However, their success depends on the local demand for recycled materials and the quality of those materials.
With headwest, the materials, especially ones that are not so obviously repurposed, will have a specific use. Local factories and skills will be used in an industry that supplements new housing for the people living there. More importantly it will ready the area for its revival. The industry’s growth will depend on its environs, therefore continue to be relevant throughout a rebirth. Last but certainly not least, the creation of an industry of and about a region puts promise back into people’s lives.