Title: Material Bank: Center for Research and Recycling of Construction Waste
Work: Master Thesis
Collaborator: Angeliki Asimakopoulou
Date: 2020

Our master thesis attempts to integrate a function that connects the history of the industrial zone of Drapetsona in Piraeus, close to Athens, and the present with a sustainable philosophy, focusing on the field of design and construction, and considering the urban fabric as an inexhaustible source of materials (according to urban mining). In the former facilities of BP, the thesis proposes a center for recycling Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW), as well as a research center oriented towards the public.
The experimental industrial unit could be an example for the creation of more units in Attica, associated because of the research center with product design, the development of new environmentally friendly materials and education of the public on recycling and circular economy. The field also raises the issue of integration and adaptive reuse of the existing buildings, while according to the purposes of circular economy, design for disassemble and the creation of a material passport system were also considered.

Moreover, the aim is to present a proposal for the redefinition of abandoned industrial sites, following a smooth transition from the abandonment of industry to the transformation of sites with functions that are addressed in parallel to the residents of each area, without being cut off from their original character.

Urban scenario

The majority of the coastal front is taken up by industrial facilities, either in operation, in reserve or inactive, warehouses, infrastructure facilities, as well as the commercial and ship repair port. These operate as borders between the city and the sea, affecting negatively the economic and cultural development of the area. The municipality of Keratsini and Drapetsona is a former industrial and refugee settlement, a residential area, environmentally degraded, which retains its refugee, labor and industrial identity. The local centers of the municipality are situated mainly along the main road axes, which also gather the majority of commercial uses.

The motorway located parallel to the water front is a strong boundary between the residential area and the coast. The metro transport network does not yet include the area, rendering the connection with the urban centers of Piraeus and Athens difficult. Green is low and limited to small or medium-sized scattered, independent areas, with the exception of some squares, linear concentrations of green along the main streets.

Most of the area belongs to the Port of Piraeus, owned by COSCO. In the area of the former fertilizer factory, a large part belongs to the National Bank of Greece, while the coastal front is property of the municipality of Keratsini and Drapetsona. The field of study and its adjacent area belong to the company OIL ONE, which is active in the processing of petroleum products, causing significant environmental pollution.

The historical physiognomy of Drapetsona area is connected to unsustainable industry, with consequences for the environment and human life. Industry that operated in the area shaped its character, as well as the lives of residents and workers who faced air pollution and worked in unhealthy conditions. Currently, the property status in the former industrial zone serves private interests, displacing residents.


The new axis spatially forms two distinct units that correspond to the two different uses that are placed in the field. One houses the construction materials recycling plant and the other the research center where green spots and buildings accessible to the public are placed. In the industrial section, two ramps lead to the lowest level, in which the transport of materials to and from the factory unfolds. In the public and research section, paths are formed perpendicular to the central axis, through which access to the tanks, the coastal front and the square is granted.

The assorting of waste begins already at the construction site. Preassorted waste facilitates faster processing.  To start with, the waste is placed in a rotary screen, which performs an initial separation of the materials, into three categories: fines (earth, sand, dust), medium size rubble (5 to 15 cm diameter) and larger demolition, deconstruction and construction waste.

Automatically routed by conveyor belts, medium-size waste passes into the heart of the blowing system, which removes light-weight materials from the rubble, such as rock-wool and polystyrene residues (both final waste). It is then sent to a magnetic conveyor, whose magnetised lower part captures any ferrous material contained in the waste. Under the effect of centrifugal force and because of the throats in the Overband, these fragments are then ejected into a waiting container and the remainder of the waste continues along conveyors towards the flotation pond. The produced aggregates and final waste can either be stored in the silo, or directly loaded on a truck or ship.

︎ Marianna Tsapepa, 2020