Waste Age at The Design Museum is an exhibition examining the role of design in tackling the critical problem of waste and its environmental consequences across the globe. Material Cultures acted as spatial designers for the exhibition. The design is a critique of the cultural sector, which is incredibly wasteful in its use of temporary, ever-changing installations. The proposal uses biobased, regenerative resources, which are carefully detailed to allow re-use at the conclusion of the exhibition.
Material Cultures collaborated with Urge during the design of The Waste Age, conducting a ground-breaking environmental audit of the materials chosen, which helped to inform both the design and spatial layout. The substitution of carbon intensive technical materials with regenerative resources and materials from the biosphere, which absorb and store natural carbon, was a fundamental focus of the design proposal for this exhibition.
In response to this, the exhibition design proposes a different way forward; designing within a post-waste framework using materials that are responsibly and regionally sourced. These are materials that can be reused, and that can ultimately return to the ground without doing any harm. Avoiding wasteful demolition, the proposal retains the stud-wall layout of the previous exhibition of Charlotte Perriand’s work. A simple spatial intervention in the form of two new rooms is introduced to the plan, using a biobased palette of timber and adobe.
The timber room features stacked cassettes framed with structural timber and infilled with shredded ‘woodwool’ that can be made from timber offcuts and waste. A second room is formed from a curved wall made from large, unfired clay bricks which are dry stacked, without the use of mortar, making them easy to dismantle for reuse after the show.