Creative Sustainability

Sharing a CS Thesis work in progress: Design research project – construction materials and circular economy

Originally published 25.10.2019

Creative Sustainability student Delphine Rumo shares her insights from the Thesis process.
Climate School - Delphine Rumo - 2019

In the beginning of this autumn, CS student Delphine Rumo participated in the Helsinki Design Week at the Climate School where she was invited to present her Master’s thesis project on construction materials and circular economy. The thesis is a collaborative project between The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, construction materials manufacturer Saint-Gobain, The University Properties of Finland SYK and Aalto University. Delphine’s particular focus is on plasterboard – kipsilevy, a very common and inexpensive construction material hardly reused and partially recycled which mostly ends up in landfills.

For the DAMY TALKS 3 – Uuden Museon Iltakoulu, a workshop on construction waste hosted by architect Sini Koskinen, Delphine’s objective was to help the participants – artists, designers and architects – think about construction materials as being part of complex systems. Those systems, Delphine suggests, generate wicked sustainability challenges which should be addressed with wicked questions. Such questions have become central in Delphine’s thesis. Presenting her ongoing project during the Climate School, Delphine also discovered that sharing her work with people outside the project was very beneficial. One of her pieces of advice for writing a thesis, is to go outside of your own social network.

In addition to the Climate School workshop, Delphine was also one of the experts of the art project Climate Taxi organised for the Helsinki Design Week by researcher and visual artist Gloria Felicia Lauterbach. The idea of the initiative was to provide 10 minute taxi rides in Helsinki from Kiasma to Design Factory for people interested in discussing sustainability. Delphine had lovely conversations with passengers who had great questions such as: “Where do we use those construction materials?” and “What can we do about this issue?”. This pushed her to rethink her research questions and better phrase sustainability challenges in the construction industry.

Climate Taxi - 2019 - Delphine Rumo

In her thesis work, Delphine also makes sense of the role of design: “There are different levels where design can be used. We can design new materials based on regenerative design principles and imagine partition walls using industrial waste or local renewable resources like for example hemp or mushrooms. We can design our buildings for longevity, adaptability and disassembly and consider buildings as banks of materials where it is possible to “store” our construction materials to be re-used in the future in other buildings or for other purposes.”

Delphine will be talking about the topic at:
Strategic Research Scientific Conference: Solution pathways for wicked problems in the management and governance of natural resources and climate change, on 30.10.2019 at Folkhälsan in Helsinki
Talk The Talk Show 2019, on 12.11.2019 at Savoy Theatre in Helsinki

Behind the Thesis
Delphine Rumo is a designer and bothered sociologist from Switzerland. She studied Industrial and Product Design at ECAL and worked as a designer in the Netherlands, Austria and Norway, creating furniture and objects of all sizes for small scale exhibitions and mass-production. Driven by her passion for weird human interactions and environmental sustainability, she then studied Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne and worked as an independent film-maker in the United Kingdom, where she produced short videos for The Carbon Literacy Project. When not asking wicked questions, Delphine co-develops educational Virtual Reality experiences empowering people around her to explore opportunities for sustainability.

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