Rock, Paper, Scissors A Materials Workshop

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(2012) The Sust. Programme at A&DS is currently putting together a Materials Library of sustainable and Scottish indigenous construction products.

The library will provide a resource containing appropriately sized samples of many products currently produced or manufactured in Scotland, with information about the sustainability credentials, displayed in such a way that users of the library can fully appreciate the experience of working with the associated materials in terms of smell, feel, texture, etc. The library will also have a number of full scale building sections, associated case studies, a study area and access to other A&DS resources. It will be open to the general public, students and building professionals, housed in a room adjacent to the A&DS Workshop on Level 2 of The Lighthouse.

On the 1st of February 2012, 22 professionals passionate about sustainable architecture and green building materials met to take part in a workshop at the The Lighthouse in Glasgow. The purpose of the workshop was to assist us in generation of ideas, and production of content for an exhibition and ‘information wall’ to introduce the Materials Library, and to outline the concept and objectives of the library. The information wall will be the first thing visitors who visit the Materials Library and A&DS Workshop will see, and we would like to use this to introduce the concept of sustainable architecture, materials and places – emphasising the potential of local resources in underpinning, sustainable, low carbon communities through local job creation.

The half-day event was attended by an interesting mix of architects, designers, planners, material suppliers and contractors, academic researchers and housing association representatives. The morning kicked off with each participant bringing with them a sample of a sustainable building material that they thought has a future in the Scottish construction industry.


Delegates approaches to material selection were explored with reference to the following headings:

Poetry and Beauty
Ease of Construction and Cost
Embodied Energy and Global Warming
Energy Saving and Storing
Finite Resources
Local and Vernacular

The aims and objectives of the Materials Library resource were a key point of discussion – including its potential as a resource for architects, specifiers, designers, students and the interested public. The premise for the development of the library is that sustainable, low carbon communities cannot succeed without equal consideration of the interlinking factors of sustainability – people, places and work (social, environmental and economic) and that sustainable construction has a vital role to play in supporting low carbon economies by creating green jobs through the development of home grown industries based around indigenous material opportunities. In this respect, emerging material technologies from other countries, such as engineered timber, which we currently import from Germany and Austria, but which could be manufactured from Scottish timber is but one example. The timber industry is in Scotland is responding to such opportunities, and the stone industry, after a huge slump in the past decades is slowly re-establishing itself. Other grass roots material industries are also being established and there is currently a great deal of research going on in Scottish universities related to new ways of using traditional materials and exploring the development of new materials.


The library’s role as a mechanism for understanding the real facts about materials and what is good and what is bad for the environment in the broadest sense formed a great deal of the debate. The outcomes of the workshop discussions will manifest themselves into a visual introduction wall to the library as a starting point to lead visitors to the facility and inform them by raising questions and themes of sustainability within the built environment.


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