Feature Project: Reclaiming wood waste for The Stoop

The VTL actively supports and encourages the use of reclaimed and found materials for new projects. Why just share and reuse tools when you can do so with materials as well? When the team of CityStudio students behind The Stoop approached us with their project, we knew it’d be a perfect example to show our readers. Take it away, Charlotte, Otilia, and Romney!

Tell us about your project and the progress you’ve made so far, as well as what inspired you to work on it.
We got together as a group because we all wanted to divert wood waste through sustainable design and peer-to-peer material engagement. We launched this project trying to tackle one of the city’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan goals: the 2015 Wood Waste Ban. We wanted to use what we saw as an abundant and readily available material to create a design object which would change the way people perceive ‘waste’.

Reclaimed wood from Strathcona renovation

With the wood we got from a deconstruction site in Strathcona, we were able to design and build a six-foot long bench. We called it The Stoop. This bench travels around Vancouver and lives temporarily in coffee shops, restaurants and other social spaces where a dialogue about the issue of wood waste can begin. We saw an opportunity to reinvigorate the character and history of this wood through contemporary design. Along the way met an entire community of people dedicated to working with reclaimed wood material. We got in touch with people who were doing working on DIY personal home projects, as well as designers creating one-of-a-kind, high end furniture pieces. We were met with support from communities who were interested in the appeal of having such an piece and employees at City Hall who are also working on the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, trying to implement an upcycling/sorting system for wood waste in Vancouver.

Finished product!

Where have you traveled to generate dialogue on wood waste and reclaiming materials? Which businesses will you be holding discussions at in the future? Anything you’d like to share from what’s happened so far?
Initially we were interested in placing it outdoors and having it change locations every couple of months. However, due to City Hall regulations and financial issues we had to have it indoors. We got in touch with small businesses, in particular coffee shops. We hoped that, by placing The Stoop in high traffic, social spaces, it would become a point of interest and conversation. Eventually, the Gluten Free Epicurean was interested in hosting it at their store. During the design process, we were in constant contact with people from the sustainability group at City Hall, where we were working to come up with ways in which we can expand this project beyond The Stoop bench. We also looked into how other cities were addressing wood waste divergence. In New York there was a design competition,12×12 in which 12 contemporary furniture designers were asked to use reclaimed lumber from 12 demolished buildings in New York City. Also in New York a group of designers were taking discarded moving crates and making Adirondack chairs and ‘chair bombing’ the city. These projects were really appealing to us and we saw a perfect niche for them to be adapted to Vancouver. Since December when our CityStudio course concluded, we’ve been getting together to debrief and organize all of our ideas, as well we’ve been looking into potential grants in order to expand a move forward with ongoing creative wood waste projects.

How can Vancouver Tool Library members and supporters help you with your project?
We are looking into the many avenues of possibility for the future of this project. We are extremely happy to speak with anyone who is passionate about wood waste diversion on how we can support each other through creative collaboration. We would also love to hear stories from VTL members who are already doing these types of projects and learn more about their challenges and outcomes. It would be great to maintain a dialogue with everyone at the VTL so that our project can be influenced and enriched by the creative minds of our community in order to make the value of this waste material visible. We can be contacted via e-mail: thestoopvan[at]gmail[dot]com.

In what sort of direction do you see this project and dialogue headed?
In an ideal world we see reclaimed materials being used widely in Vancouver and seldom ending up in the landfill. We hope to see a wood waste hub being conceived in the coming years, where wood can be taken, processed, categorized and made available for re-use. This system would give a new value to the wood. It would make the process more efficient because the large scale processing and categorization would give way for many avenues of wood waste re-use, such as biofuel, framing for houses, and furniture. As for where we stand at the moment, our goal and vision is to develop an active and interdisciplinary community of people who can all work together to give form to their ideas of how wood waste can be best used in Vancouver.

Team Wood Waste hanging out on The Stoop