Collecting Urbanite for the Kitchen Foundation

by ziggy on May 20, 2010 -- 3 comments -- Follow

urbanite-thisisurbaniteIn April, I went to gather urbanite for the kitchen foundation (which has finally been started as of last week!). Urbanite is, of course, reclaimed concrete from old roads and sidewalks.

I’ve collected and used urbanite for my home, but this time, walking in a giant yard brimming with the stuff, I got a decidedly post-industrial feeling about the whole thing. There was something sorta post-modern about the whole affair: scrambling over giant piles of rubble from dozens of demolition jobs, looking for the right size pieces of concrete to reuse in a completely different sort of building. I imagined that if I didn’t pick through this stuff, it would likely still be there the next year, and the next, and probably until well beyond my life or that of even our current capitalist, globalized society.

Concrete is, after all, pretty much completely non-biodegradable. And it is used absolutely everywhere: roads, walls, bridges, paths, houses, etc. The consumption of concrete is utterly massive: it’s the second most consumed material on earth, second only to water. That, I think, is absolutely horrifying. Concrete is here to stay. It’s not going to return to the earth anytime soon, like a fallen tree in the forest. That concrete block will look the same for hundreds (or thousands?) of years.

urbanite-pile

And then I realized why urbanite is  a great symbol for the natural building movement: to take old concrete from roads and big buildings, those things that symbolize the achievements of our sprawling, ecologically destructive society, and to reuse them in natural homes, homes built by human hands, using other natural and recycled materials, is a brilliant thing. Literally, we can create a foundation from the waste of our larger, wasteful society. Hah!

urbanite-trailer

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  • Joe

    Just finished watching a program on CNBC the business channel on carbon credits- it struck me that alot ecovillages do would qualify for marketing carbon credits- I had not realized until watching program tonight that there was a market that takes advantage of even small things- it may be worthwhile for DR to either get copy of this program or see if it is on web and to get an idea what I am talking about- this could be a business enterprize for DR to be the point on getting carbon credits sold not only from DR but from other IC’s etc.

  • Kelly

    I was wondering how you found the site that was giving away the urbanite. I have been looking online and so far have had no luck finding a site similar to the one you visited. I think there would be definite possibilities to building a house almost completely out of recycled concrete using traditional stone crafting techniques, basically brick and mortar with concrete.

    I was reading through your site, and found it fascinating. I currently live in Chicago and am paying a bundle for a house that while it’s nice is hugely overpriced if not for the fact that it is in the city of Chicago. Thankfully though I did get a reasonable price since I bought it at the bottom of the housing slump. My current goal would be to build a concrete stone patio behind my house, since after seeing your foundation I think it would look very nice as paving material.

    Thank you for any information you can provide,

    Kelly

  • I think a friend happened to pass by a large yard (owned by a trucking company, I think) that had piles stacked high with the urbanite, so he just called and asked if we could come pick some up. I doubt you would find this stuff through searching online. Go out and look around construction sites, demolition zones, trucking yards, municipal yards, dumps, etc. Most people would be happy to be rid of the stuff. Keep your eyes peeled for high stacks of old concrete and you’ll start to see it everywhere.

    I think you’ve got a good idea there for a patio. I am thinking of using a few pieces as walking stones to the entrance of my house.

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