REKINDLING AN IDEA: Juliet Arnott with early prototypes of the Rekindle seat design.
Juliet Arnott's Whole House Reuse project aims to dismantle condemned houses and recycle the remains as practical artwork.Christchurch homes earmarked for demolition could transform art as part of a new green initiative.
The idea stemmed from plans to open a Christchurch branch of Rekindle, a non-profit social enterprise in which young people make furniture from waste wood.
Arnott said she "naively assumed" the city would have a surplus of wood from demolitions but found much of the material was not being recycled.
Wood being processed at Burwood, once sorted, was "incredibly limited" without being reprocessed at high cost.
"The Christchurch-based salvage and demolition companies are doing some salvage, but speaking to some of them, it really is picking the eyes out of it," she said.
"I realised it was a major issue for me, as a furniture-maker who uses waste wood, how much [wood] was wasted. I thought, 'How could we creatively highlight the lack of use of this reusable material?'"
The project would focus on reusing wood, glass and metal for community projects, from raised garden beds at schools to furniture and offices for charitable groups.
"We reuse in creative ways, but also in functional use, so much of this material. Much of it has a durability that goes way beyond [one] house."
Reusing materials also had social benefits for Christchurch, Arnott said.
Accessing houses already awarded to a demolition firm was "complex" because contract costs included salvage rights and short time frames, she said.
Two Christchurch companies she had spoken to supported the idea "in principle".
Demolition crews would manage the job and take down the roof and ceilings before the project's volunteers helped with the salvage.
Arnott said she was taking time to find the right property for a test case.
Older wooden homes with materials of salvageable value, such as hardwood, were preferred. Modern homes were unlikely to fit the brief.
"I know there'll be someone out there who will really want their house treated in this way - someone who put a lot of love and work in and would love to see it used rather than a pile of rubble," she said.
For more information, visit rekindle.org.nz.