Rethinking and reinventing steel recycling

Rendering of Tristan Sito and Justin Ng's design, Cable Cruise

When most people look at hydro towers, they don't spare a thought for what happens to them after they're been decommissioned. But for second-year Architecture students, taking a second look at hydro towers earned them $3000 and a trip to San Francisco.

Tristan Sito and Justin NgTristan Sito and Justin Ng are one of three University of Waterloo teams who took home a top prize at the 2015 Steel Structures Education Foundation (SSEF) Architecture Competition. Tristan and Justin won the Award of Excellence for their unique design concept that reuses, recycles and reinvents hydro towers.

The SSEF Architecture Competition is designed to provide students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a design process that blends necessity, concept and reality. University of Waterloo students have consistently excelled in this competition, with at least one Waterloo team placing in the top three each year since the competition began in 2002.

This year’s theme, recycle – recycler, challenged student architects to incorporate recycling in a design that used steel as the primary element.

“Cable Cruise” was Tristan and Justin’s final project for their building construction course during their 1B term. The idea itself, which repurposes existing hydro towers as supports for a cable car system, came quite late in the design process.

We were already working on an idea when we realized there was another idea that was better than our original concept. We finished our original concept and moved on to our new idea, which would later become Cable Cruise.

Since the idea was conceived very late in the design process, the two of them had to sacrifice a few nights of sleep to make design decisions. Their hard work and dedication to their new idea eventually paid off and earned them the Award of Excellence, which consists of a $3000 prize and an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco for the annual Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) Conference.

The judging panel had high praise for "Cable Cruise" and its innovative reuse of existing structures.

It layers a new mode of transit on the city’s infrastructure without deconstruction or use of other imbedded energies…This adaptive reuse of the existing framework through the use of addition, rather than subtraction, is original, inspiring and structurally ambitious.

Tristan and Justin were both thrilled when they learned their design won the competition. The two of them are grateful to their professors who pushed them to do their very best. 

With the CISC conference coming up in September, the two  are excited to meet professionals in their field and already making plans for their trip.

We are both extremely excited to be participating in the conference and look forward to be learning more about the application of steel. We plan on travelling around San Francisco and exploring the city's wide range of interesting architecture and urban scenery. 

Perhaps inspiration will strike again during their trip and inspire them to rethink and reinvent something new.

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