Working High and Low

We utilize “lowly” materials in highly sophisticated design applications. We use high-tech equipment and software to generate work that can be produced through low-tech and low-impact means. We develop processes that are complex and responsive yet have low resistance to adoption in the market place. We are driven to lower barriers so the highest number of designers and users can benefit from our work. We listen. We observe. We collaborate. We work high and low.

HiLo Lab is invested in material ecologies, production efficiencies, and the use of sustainable resources in fabrication and construction. While much of our work centres on wood and timbre, we are also invested in reusing a wide array of materials, including plastics, metal, fabric, and other materials sourced from waste streams.


HiLo Lab @ SALA

The UBC SALA HiLo Lab is an academic research lab working at the intersection of materials research, construction ecology, and the use of novel technologies in architectural applications. The lab’s mission centres on three interrelated ideas –the use of second stream materials (classified as waste) and increasing applications for wood in construction, building greater access to digital design and fabrication processes, and the design and application of energy efficient methods for construction that eliminate waste and extend the useful lifespan of materials. We are driven to generate sophisticated yet widely accessible tool sets and strategies for efficiently and sustainably building using low-impact materials and techniques.

Our Approach

“Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I’ll tell you what kind of man you are.”

– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin


With his oft paraphrased statement, Brillat-Savarin means to remind us that what we choose to consume defines us as individuals. If this is true, one could easily argue that the generation of products, the byproducts of their creation, and our collective consumption habits are equally defining . The consequences of consumerism extend to our equipment, our garbage, our exhaust, and ultimately to our individual and communal waste and carbon footprints. HiLo Lab’s strategy is to de-stigmatize material waste, see it as a raw material capable of being useful and beautiful, and then build with it, using all software, tools, and techniques at our disposal.

The HiLo Lab’s work focuses on three main areas:

Materials Research helps us understand the properties and potentials of materials that are being deployed. We are interested in understanding materials as resource, cultural artifact, assembly, and future waste. Our research includes wood, plastics, fabrics, metals, and concrete.

Tools Research on analog, mechanical, and digital tools (including software) allows us to propose and develop more efficient methods for producing, transporting, and assembling architectural elements.  We strive to empower designers by providing new tool sets that positively impact the built environment and how it’s made. We are driven to make digital tools more accessible to all individuals. We are open to the productive misuse and redeployment of tools we already possess.

Design Research includes the development of techniques that allow designers to effectively use materials and waste materials in their own designs and fabrication processes. This includes designing physical and digital interfaces and software useful for design visualization and controlling tools.

Our Interdisciplinary Approach  extends our reach, amplifies our voice, and improves our ability to make meaningful and lasting change.

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Support and Thanks

Thank You! 

SALA’s HiLo Lab thanks Eco Waste for its ongoing support of our work.
We also acknowledge the Foundation for the Carolinas for their generous donation to the lab.


Get Involved

SALA’s HiLo Lab welcomes financial and material contributions. Our research is resource intensive and we rely on your support to achieve our goals. Donations will be used to support student researchers, purchase select project related equipment and materials, and to secure a permanent lab space. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

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