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anooi a nourishing intent

sustainable design: urban mining for interiors

in sustainable design

One of the most interesting approaches when it comes to sustainable design is the reduction or elimination of waste, tending towards a circular use of resources.
Reducing waste means more efficient processes that generate fewer offcuts and byproducts. And it includes the use of waste as a raw material.

Today we’re focusing on a specific example of the latter: urban mining.

about urban mining

Cities generate many different streams of waste and urban mining is the ability to take a creative look at them, considering how they could get a second life.

In other words, urban mining means seeing cities as a concentrate of resources instead of a generator of waste, using waste generated in urban environments as a raw material.

Urban mining debris sorted by type to be reused.
Credit: A Waste Epiphany

urban mining: the materials

In mining landfills (instead of quarries) one can find a variety of materials that can all be given a second life: e-waste, household waste, and more…
One important stream of urban waste comes from building demolitions. The majority of the buildings in use today have not been designed and constructed with reversibility in mind. So building demolitions always end up with huge piles of debris.

Building debris used to be dumped in landfills, but new-generation designers have started to investigate how to reuse this abundant resource.

Broken bricks ready to be reused.
Credit: TFOB

urban mining for interiors

When a building can be reversed and orderly disassembled, its components can get a second life with the same use: windows as windows, floors as floors… But when it is demolished, the result is a mix of concrete, bricks, metals, and other building materials. How to reuse it? This apparently worthless mix is in fact the beginning of a new inspiring material story…

New techniques are arising to sort, grind and sieve this heterogeneous mix, using it as an additive in a waste-based cement to erect new buildings.
Alternatively, building debris can be turned into a variety of interior design products from furniture to lamps, accessories and finishes. Bricks and concrete can become a waste-based concrete mix, plaster waste can be repurposed, and mixed debris can live again in a terrazzo material.

Below is a product selection showcasing what building debris can become. All pieces are sourced from riivin, the fully independent sustainable interior design platform I curate. You can find more examples by browsing through the platform and, if you’re a member of riivin+, don’t forget to log in to see the entire product selection!

Sustainable design for interiors from building debris: a table lamp, a coffee table and a bookend.


Archy Table is a handcrafted lamp made with construction debris. Plaster waste is…

read more: Archy Table by More Circular


Berlin is a coffee table made with construction debris. Including concrete, bricks and…

read more: Berlin by TFOB


AWE is a handmade bookend crafted out of construction waste. Coming from…

read more: AWE by A Waste Epiphany

Table lamp styled on a wooden stool.
Credit: More Circular
Lamp among the plaster debris it is made of.
Credit: More Circular
Coffee table made of building debris.
Credit: TFOB
Close-up of the coffee table top.
Credit: TFOB

If you’re interested in sustainable options for interiors, you’ll find hundreds of independently-selected products at, as well as other resources such as second-hand marketplaces, rental options, and more…

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