Emergent Structures formed as the result of a meeting convened by The Creative Coast in the summer of 2009 between a few local sustainability leaders and the planners, engineers and city agencies entrusted with the redevelopment of Savannah Gardens (Strathmore Estates), a dilapidated neighborhood just east of Savannah’s Historic District. The developers had already planned for a mixed-use, mixed-income, EarthCraft-certified footprint, and the meeting was intended to further enrich the sustainable aspects of the project.
That meeting led to a tour of the site, which led to more meetings between interested artists, designers, preservationists and community leaders. The concept of a community-based material reclamation quickly matured. Many of the building materials were not as ravaged by time as many first thought, and as much as everything else in Savannah Gardens had been. Not only were many of the building materials in very good shape, but there was an abundance of old-growth heart pine huddled beneath the PVC siding, the asbestos shingles, and the strata of weathered roofing materials.
A team of dedicated designers, preservationists, community leaders and sustainability advocates found a common interest in using the project to kick-start a larger building material reclamation movement. Even as the Savannah Gardens reclamation project has continued over the course of the last few years, the ambition and reach of Emergent Structures has spread farther afield to encompass more buildings, more materials, more communities, more people, and ultimately, more stories.
We thank Thomas & Hutton Engineering, C.H.S.A. (Community Housing Services Agency), and the Housing Authority of Savannah for their initial request for our input, and for their continued interest in increasing the yield of reclaimed materials from the Savannah Gardens site.