MADASTER ORIGINATION: MATERIAL MATTERS
In 2016 Thomas Rau and Sabine Oberhuber published the book ‘Material Matters’. The book describes the tranisition to a new economic system where consumers are no longer owner, but temporary user of products and materials. Their view was captured in the VPRO ‘Tegenlicht’ broadcast (“Het Einde van Bezit”) on Dutch public television called. Madaster was based on these insights and concepts. The paragraphs below are extractions of the book ‘Material Matters’ and based on interviews with Thomas Rau. The sections illustrate the conceptual background of Madaster.
THE LINEAR ECONOMY
“Since the last century, we have an economic system that is aimed at continuous, exponential growth – our wealth depends on it. In order to maintain this system, products must be consumed in ever greater numbers. Consequently, we have turned products into a problem: their technical lifespans are artificially shortened. Due to so-called innovation, they ‘age’ rapidly, and because of continuously changing fashion trends we buy something new every season.
We cannot repair this system by making minor improvements. We can only achieve this by organizing our economy in a fundamentally different way.” (Source: Material Matters)
RESPONSIBILITY FOR MATERIALS
“First, we must realize that with ownership comes responsibility. Nowadays, by necessity, all kinds of items end up in our possession for which, in the long term, we cannot bear responsibility. If the building we work in no longer meets our requirements, we are completely out of our depth when are asked to consider its responsible use. We are not able to take care of all (raw) materials that were used to create the building - let alone reuse them. To make things worse: we often have not got a clue which (raw) materials were used, or what properties these materials have.” (Source: paraphrasing Material Matters)
“In the meantime, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We mine raw materials, turn them into goods. Those goods are used, or used up, and then thrown away - end of story. The whole chain contributes to this system: from designers and builders, to manufacturers and investors. This means that the consequence of consumption within this system is practically always the same: waste. “ (Source: paraphrasing Material Matters)
“What is waste? Waste is material that has ended up in anonymity. A lot of waste is incinerated, which could be considered a cremation of raw materials. How can we prevent this? By providing everything with an identity, and well by documenting it, by giving it a passport. Hence the materials passport. Subsequently, we must facilitate access to these passports, as to a library. This is how we arrived at the idea of a real estate materials register: Madaster. A public platform for the entire real estate business. You could look at it as a civil register for materials.” (Source)