Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)



First Advisor

Marthe Rowen

Second Advisor

Heinrich Hermann


According to the report of Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2018 Fact Sheet, approximately 600 million tons of Construction and Demolition (C&D) debris were generated in the United States in 2018, more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste. Disposal of C&D waste is one fraught with problems across the United States. Lack of supporting laws, regulations, and industrial policies, low market shares for C&D waste recycling products, ineffective coordination of crucial links in the industrial chain, and low benefits of recycling products are the main contributors to the low recycling rate of urban construction. C&D materials management solutions must be financially sustainable, environmentally friendly, technically available and legally acceptable. It is not the story of a resource that is being wasted but the ignorance of the city memory and building values. C&D waste has been pushed to the periphery of urban environments, severing the relationship between the urban environment we inhabit and the one that is required to support the way we live. A linear economy assumes waste as the end of the system. Thus this notion, which starts with resource extraction and ends with disposal, is what underlies the mainstream understanding of capital. Current waste management forms a model of valuing trash as a linear system that separates input from output. The possibility and internal value of waste is severely underrated and even blindfolded. Therefore, this thesis will revalue the C&D waste and reconstruct the recycling system, preventing undue process in recycling and exploring the potential of adaptive reuse to develop a new standardized, systematic and flexible workflow. During all ecosystem processes, energy and matter are conserved. As energy moves through an ecosystem, it changes form, but no new energy is created. A primary mechanism is that all necessities are provided from inside its physical borders. A whale fall is a micro ecosystem in the oceans. When whales die and sink, their carcasses provide abundant nutrients for deepwater creatures. There are 4 stages in the decomposition of a whale carcass supporting a succession of marine biological communities. Observing the process of whale fall, the internal logic of decomposition and re-function is similar to the workflow of deconstructing, recycling and reassembling in urban ecology. This thesis will pose the question of how a city can revitalize and renovate by itself.In this biomimetic urban mechanism, C&D materials management will be thoroughly and comprehensively planned. Abandoned and dilapidated buildings will act as ‘whales’ in the urban ecology, providing nutrients for new buildings and the city environment, called ‘building fall’. This thesis reimagines a new C&D materials management paradigm and urban ecology system that a city can support itself, reusing the waste it generates, in a way that is sustainable into the future.

Included in

Architecture Commons



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