Galvanized steel is an ideal material to repurpose and refurbish. Batch galvanized steel is extensively used in infrastructure applications to provide decades of maintenance-free service. The search for circular solutions has identified significant opportunities for renovation and reuse of these ubiquitous galvanized steel components.
As public bodies look to incorporate circular principles, a recent decision by the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) to implement both (i) direct reuse and (ii) regalvanizing and reuse of highway guard rails (safety barriers) is the result of an examination of the supply chain and its potential for improved circularity whilst maintaining road safety.
Improving circularity whilst maintaining safety
A project involving installation contractors, guard rail suppliers and galvanizers supported by specialist agencies, placed the whole chain under the ‘circular economy microscope’. The approach is already being implemented in a validation project on Dutch roads.
Galvanized steel highway guard rails can be dismantled for reuse or regalvanizing with up to 70% savings in CO2 emissions. Rijkswaterstaat’s decision to move forward with reuse and regalvanizing was driven by some important evaluations. They found that often guard rails are replaced as a result of other road maintenance reasons but can have a remaining life of up to 24 years. These products can be directly reused on the road system.
Rijkswaterstaat’s decision to move forward with reuse and regalvanizing was driven by some important evaluations. They found that often guard rails are replaced as a result of other road maintenance reasons but can have a remaining life of up to 24 years. These products can be directly reused on the road system.
Used guard rails requiring regalvanizing can be renovated with significant benefits compared to new ‘virgin’ installations, delivering:
- 40% reduction in environmental costs
- 70% reduction in CO2 emissions
- 10% reduction in costs.
This proves that remaking can also offer considerable cost benefits. Circularity can be cost effective as well as environmentally beneficial.
Repurposing and Refurbishing Galvanized Steel – Case Studies
Spanish Information Point
Architects: Peris + Toral
The Les Glòries development on the eastern flank of Barcelona has been one of the city’s most significant urban upgrades. During the regeneration of the area, Barcelona City Hall wanted an Information Point that would inform local residents about the development but also provide information for tourists.
Images © Peris+Toral Arquitectes.
After serving its function since 2015, Peris + Toral have recently been tasked by Barcelona City Hall to repurpose the structure as a youth centre (casal de joves in Catalan) in the city’s St Martí neighbourhood.
Please Be Seated
Arup collaborated with British designer Paul Cocksedge to transform Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, with the large-scale community installation, Please Be Seated, as part of London Design Festival 2019. Supported by British Land and fabricated by White & White London, Please Be Seated was on show to the public from 14 September – 11 October 2019.
The unique installation used timber sourced from reclaimed scaffolding planks and galvanized steel scaffolding poles to bring focus to the reuse and repurpose of construction waste. It comprised of a series of rising and falling concentric circles, providing benches and arches for people to sit on and walk under, further enhancing the pedestrian experience in Broadgate.
Images © Mark Cocksedge.
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