This is, admittedly, a large topic. Eventually, I will get around to a discussion as to what is truly relevant today, in terms of handling salvaged materials back into contemporary life. But first, a talk on the 'fumbled ball' of my early career.
Back in the '80's I spent a summer touring and sketching through the 'Veneto' in northern Italy. It was my third exposure to Ruins, preceded by old adobe structures though the American S.W., and by Crusader Castles of the Middle-East.
Both of the coastline cities' of Florence and Venice's architecture had a common theme; remnants of past civilizations' building materials were present in the architecture of these cities. Apparently, quarried stone blocks, columns, door & window surrounds, and ironwork's were stripped from other port cities throughout the known world, and used as ballast for returning ships of trade. Imagine that, centuries of accumulated building materials sitting in Italian salvage yards waiting for say, a guy like me, to come around and buy those blocks, columns and gargoyles for an upcoming building project. - so utterly cool.
And, if you look closely, on your next European picture taking tour, you too, will see, for example, a 16th century building with architectural artifact peppered though its facade. Materials a hundred to two-thousand or greater years old, from India, China, Russia, gads, pretty much the whole civilized planet.
Oh ya, the 'fumbled ball' of youth. I was a graduate student of Landscape Architecture at the time; pretty well immersed in academia. When I came upon this realization, it hit me like an Epiphany; what a great topic for a Fulbright application. I imaged such a grant to fund an extended stay in Italy and perhaps beyond...
I started making babies instead!
Let's get started.
Every salvage freak needs a place to both store and work on collected building materials. So, a fenced yard is essential, and within that space some sheltered work and storage space is equally important to have.
Here is an affordable and versatile structure to consider: the retrofitting and re-purposing of shipping containers to use as portable storage, working and living spaces.
Many shipping containers arrive on our shores with export products from China. Some of these containers are shipped back to China full of our scrap cardboard, metals and plastics for use in their manufacturing. The remaining containers are sold here for various uses at significant discount.
There exists a cost effective system of transport for containers: flatbed semi-trucks fitted with a side loading cranes that lifts and sets the container onto your site. Generally, simple foundation piers are pre-set at such prescribed locations to serve as a foundation. Such locations can be for either a relatively short or long duration depending upon the timeline of use for the module.
Once sited on a foundation, the simplest conversion is to install salvaged doors & windows to function as a basic work space. Other salvaged materials such as light fixtures, short run electrical wiring & conduits, plumbing conduits & fixtures, ventilation, flooring, work benches (from salvaged lumber or steel) can all be collected & retrofitted for use into the container.
Shipping containers are also being used for living spaces (Google search: shipping container homes, then images, to view some of the many creative design applications already achieved). There are also how-to, step-by-step instructional U-tube videos to walk you through the retrofit process.
Shipping containers can be easily combined and stacked to create more spacious custom spaces for your particular needs. They are easily cut and welded, (the only additional requirement here is the use of a vertical crane if stacking). Other attributes include their structural integrity and that they are fire resistant.
Such a construct can be for your individual use as a long or short term installation. For you bigger picture guys & gals, imagine having a diverse fleet of such work spaces pre-fitted, ready to use, to move onto the next job site; individual modules fitted-out to provide: carpentry, metal, masonry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, office, storage, meeting space; the list is as long as there are the trades and professionals required in the construction process.
If, there is to be a continual series of such projects, then such a portable infrastructure would be invaluable; consider the economies of scale, not to mention the value in the re-purposing of such salvage.