Key Facts:

Project summary: Rotor is a not for profit organisation of architects and designers working with reused materials in large and small scale projects. In addition, Rotor carry out research and produce both online and print publications relating to progressive waste management ideas.

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Programme: Architecture, design and research relating to reuse

Initiator: Maarten Gielen and Tristan Boniver. Currently run as a not for profit with a board of trustees, lead coordinators, project staff and interns.

Project Duration: Founded in 2005

Client Team: Various clients

Funding Sources: Depends on the project but they do receive some grant funding from the government for certain research projects.

Profitability/Loss: Not for Profit

Permissions / Permits: Certain permissions required for electrical goods but they do not often deal with these materials.

Local Links: Rotor naturally has strong links in Brussels and are working on a number of interesting mapping projects allowing for open source reuse in Belgium. They do however work internationally most notably curating the OMA show at the Barbican.

Publicity/advertising: Website, publications, press, word of mouth

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
Rotor are based in a shop unit in Brussels. They have a team of around eight people working in the space of about 75 square metres. They fitted out their office using reused and found materials.

When they first started out they worked closely with the Zinneke Parade (annual celebration in Brussels) who asked Rotor to supply all the materials for the Festival from waste streams or reused materials. This included costumes and stage constructions. Rotor initially set up a warehouse for the materials they acquired and even tested selling the items not used for the Festival. They found however that this model did not work due to the high cost of storage space and the fact that people would come in and rather than purchase the samples on sale would go straight to the source and get it for free.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
Rotor’s audience and reach varies depending on the project they are working on. They have been responsible for projects as diverse as research publications, online reuse platforms and exhibition designs and masterplans. Their work has a clear focus on sustainable reuse but their remit and output varies greatly.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Storage was cited as a major issue and an overhead that they could not afford. Because of this Rotor no longer stores materials but sources them on a project by project basis.

The quality of materials available for reuse can vary alot and there was a need to be wary of taking on large quantities where just a few items are useful and the rest ending up as waste. Electronics were not seen as worthy of investment and challenges were noted of making standard construction materials desirable to the reuse market. Chipboard for example can often be cheaper new than reused.

What next?
Rotor has just opened Grindbakken, a masterplan for the docks of Ghent. They have also just launched Opalis, an online inventory of second hand building material traders with commissioners, architects and building contractors as target groups.

Complementary Programmes:
Publications and online platforms.

Project Website / Further Info:;