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The Upcycled World of Superuse Studios

Architects from Superuse Studios in the Netherlands drive around with a trunk full of random bits of trash—pieces of broken windshields, metal offcuts, and bags of coffee grounds. As lead architect Jan Jongert explains in the Guardian, it's a mobile school for teaching upcycling—"part materials library, part case-study bank—and it all fits in the back of a van."

For 15 years, Superuse (formerly known as Architecten 2012) has been figuring out how to interrupt the usual flow of products to the landfill. They've turned old wind turbines into playgrounds and campgrounds, airline seatbelts into belts, and a set of old washing machines into an amazing-looking coffeebar.

Old chairs became a stairway and loft, and old bike parts turned into a moveable stage.

The firm has also worked on larger projects, like a house made entirely of reclaimed materials, and an apartment building rescued from demolition. As they've worked on installations with manufacturers like Vitra, they've started to help reduce waste in production as well.

The projects are inspiring, but they also point to a larger problem: everything we make could be designed for reuse and upcycling in the beginning, versus forcing people to figure out later how to hack together something new. Right now, projects like Superuse's are rare one-offs, and most products in the world are still slipping through to the trash. What if we could design for mass upcycling?

This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Become an Upcycler. Follow along and join the conversation at and on Twitter at #goodcitizen

Images courtesy of Superuse Studios

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