Electricity cables arrive at Electricité du Liban on big, wooden cylinder-shaped stands. Usually, these rolls end up in a garbage dump after the cables run out. But if you ask Nicola Santini, an Italian architect committed to recycling materials he uses, the stands can be used as tables, and anybody who’s ever been to Demo pub in Gemmayzeh probably sat at one of them.
Recycled architecture and design has been an alternative to conventional design for around five decades. Taking an eco-friendly approach when building a house brought to life ideas found only in sci-fi stories: walls made of old beer bottles and houses built using cardboard, used car tires and straw bales. Architects with a green mindset use materials perceived to be junk, such as pallets, boards, sinks, glass, re-used or modified old furniture, tires and even metal, in their projects.And although Lebanon is far from topping the list of countries when it comes to recycling, Santini and his two partners, Italian Pier Paolo Taddei and Lebanese architecture professor Charbel Maskineh of Notre Dame University, are trying to change their clients’ mindsets one step at a time.
But Santini spoke warmly of one success story, which was designing an eco shop in the Chouf. The client loved the result (...)