Comment: Diversifying our materials base through regenerative principles

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The Engineer

The philosophy of regenerative design imagines a different future for the way we design, build and use buildings. Core to this shift will be the move from our current unstable, extractive and monocultural material supply chain to one that is much more resilient, renewable and heterogenous. Enabling this shift will be engineers who have transitioned from roles as specifiers from a tiny palette of materials to creative re-users of a diverse and evolving spectrum of local material resources.

Concrete, steel, masonry and timber dominate our global construction material supply chain. They are the construction equivalent to wheat, corn, rice and soy, the four crops that dominate global food supply. The creation of these worldwide monocultures allows high production levels and profits for those that control the supply chain. But the cost of uniformity is lack of resilience, which, as we start to see the largescale disruption of global trade, we are starting to feel. What’s more, the production of these monocrops and ‘monomaterials’ is breaking our ecosystem boundaries. So what can we do about it?

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