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Using Salvaged Building Materials in Detroit – Does This Really Make Sense?


“We live in times of great turbulence. Movements that normally cannot be seen are now taking shape and happening unexpectedly. Things that appeared to be clear now become unclear. In the absence of external forces, friction within flows will self organize into a collection of so-called irrotational vortices.” 

Architects: Raumlaborberlin


Some of Architect/Artist Tadashi Kawamata’s Work:

MOSCOW, RUSSIA AUGUST 24, 2018: Contemporary Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata by his nest-shaped installation, part of the Para-site Project, on display at Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Sergei Bobylev/TASS (Photo by Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images)

This radicalism towards defining the flow of space by articulating the composition of individual salvaged materials can be trans-located to Detroit.


Thousands of houses in Detroit have been abandoned and demolished. If you think that everything ends here, think again. Building materials from these houses won’t instantly go to waste because these materials can be salvaged and utilized again. Using salvaged building materials from abandoned houses in Detroit isn’t an illegal act. In fact, this is a wide-ranging accepted practical practice.


What are the Commonly Salvaged Building Materials in Detroit?  

With the numerous houses and building structures being abandoned in Detroit, it comes a no surprise that there’s an increased number of materials from these old structures that can be salvaged and utilized for other building constructions or related purposes.

The most common, useful, and sustainable salvaged building materials in Detroit include but not limited to, the following:



  • Old steels
  • Foams
  • Bamboos and woods
  • Bricks
  • Shingles
  • Carpets
  • Drywall
  • Floor coverings
  • Scrap metals and iron
  • Marbles
  • Recyclable Junks
  • Concretes
  • Old windows
  • Locks and doorknobs
  • Stones


Seattle Gasification Plant Reclaimed into a salvaged park!


Only bricks that were laid in lime mortar can be used because bricks laid with Portland cement are too strongly bonded to the mortar which was introduced into construction in the 1920s so only bricks that are older than 50 years are able to be reused.



Using these salvaged building materials from abandoned houses in Detroit is a process that might take time and might require more people to handle it, but it’s all worth it. In fact, by selling and using salvaged building materials, Detroit was able to keep deconstruction costs very competitive. What is more, decaying and empty houses and building are eyesores. However, demolishing and abandoning these structures could also mean having reusable and valuable materials taking up spaces in local landfills.


The Perks of Using Salvaged Building Materials from Abandoned Houses in Detroit

More commonly used building materials are becoming common scenes in Detroit. Some of these salvaged materials are being reused again by homeowners, while others ended up being sold. Using salvaged building materials from abandoned houses in Detroit is linked with many great benefits.

This is proven to be an attractive and practical option, especially if you are considering savings on the disposal costs as well as the building materials’ resale value. Using salvaged materials is also noted for its environmental benefits, such as enjoying more improved and cleaner air because there will no longer be building materials that are being burnt. There will also be amazing solid waste reduction and less use of landfills. It cannot be denied that construction wastes pose negative impacts in the environment, so if these wasted will be reused and managed properly, the environment and even the people will be greatly benefited.

The woods and lumbers recovered from abandoned houses are sometimes categorized as vintage, which means that you get hold of such priceless materials like these. Old architectural trimmings, antique doorknobs, windows, stones, floor coverings, bricks, shingles, carpets, and more are just a few of the many salvaged materials in Detroit that can still be utilized for other constructions.



Another benefit of using salvaged building materials also goes to the consumers of Detroit, who can now purchase building materials at incredibly low cost. This eliminates the financial burden of having to buy brand new and costly building materials for their home.



I enjoy being part of Urban Splatter as it continues to create evolving opportunities within the digital realm of architecture.

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