Architecture

One man's garbage is another man's ... house?

The Waste House constructed a the University Of Brighton employs waste materials sourced from domestic and construction sites (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House constructed a the University Of Brighton employs waste materials sourced from domestic and construction sites (Photo: BBM)
View 53 Images
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
1/53
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
2/53
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
3/53
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Waste House serves as an exhibition space and design studio (Photo: BBM)
4/53
Waste House serves as an exhibition space and design studio (Photo: BBM)
Waste House is available to schools, colleges and community groups for green-themed events and workshops (Photo: BBM)
5/53
Waste House is available to schools, colleges and community groups for green-themed events and workshops (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House is based in the University Of Brighton, UK (Photo: BBM)
6/53
The Waste House is based in the University Of Brighton, UK (Photo: BBM)
Sensors in the external walls of Waste House will monitor the home's insulation performance and related data over the next few years (Photo: BBM)
7/53
Sensors in the external walls of Waste House will monitor the home's insulation performance and related data over the next few years (Photo: BBM)
Rammed earth chalk wall using chalk originally destined for a landfill (Photo: BBM)
8/53
Rammed earth chalk wall using chalk originally destined for a landfill (Photo: BBM)
The house was completed in April this year (Photo: BBM)
9/53
The house was completed in April this year (Photo: BBM)
Unwanted carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
10/53
Unwanted carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
The house features recycled timber frame and wooden floors (Photo: BBM)
11/53
The house features recycled timber frame and wooden floors (Photo: BBM)
The house was built by 253 students and apprentices (Photo: BBM)
12/53
The house was built by 253 students and apprentices (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House constructed a the University Of Brighton employs waste materials sourced from domestic and construction sites (Photo: BBM)
13/53
The Waste House constructed a the University Of Brighton employs waste materials sourced from domestic and construction sites (Photo: BBM)
The house is now an exhibition space (Photo: BBM)
14/53
The house is now an exhibition space (Photo: BBM)
The house will host workshops and school visits (Photo: BBM)
15/53
The house will host workshops and school visits (Photo: BBM)
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
16/53
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House is based in the University Of Brighton, UK (Photo: BBM)
17/53
The Waste House is based in the University Of Brighton, UK (Photo: BBM)
The house serves as proof that much waste destined for landfills can be put to good use (Photo: BBM)
18/53
The house serves as proof that much waste destined for landfills can be put to good use (Photo: BBM)
Floppy discs were used as insulation (Photo: BBM)
19/53
Floppy discs were used as insulation (Photo: BBM)
Some 90 percent of the materials that went into making the structure are waste products (Photo: BBM)
20/53
Some 90 percent of the materials that went into making the structure are waste products (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the home (Photo: BBM)
21/53
Interior shot of the home (Photo: BBM)
The house promotes green living (Photo: BBM)
22/53
The house promotes green living (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the home (Photo: BBM)
23/53
Interior shot of the home (Photo: BBM)
Some 90 percent of the materials that went into making the structure are waste products (Photo: BBM)
24/53
Some 90 percent of the materials that went into making the structure are waste products (Photo: BBM)
Around 20,000 toothbrushes were used in the build (Photo: BBM)
25/53
Around 20,000 toothbrushes were used in the build (Photo: BBM)
Some 4,000 VHS video cassettes are used as wall insulation (Photo: BBM)
26/53
Some 4,000 VHS video cassettes are used as wall insulation (Photo: BBM)
The house serves as proof that much waste destined for landfills can be put to good use (Photo: BBM)
27/53
The house serves as proof that much waste destined for landfills can be put to good use (Photo: BBM)
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
28/53
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
The house was completed in April 2014 (Photo: BBM)
29/53
The house was completed in April 2014 (Photo: BBM)
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
30/53
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
31/53
Carpet tiles were used as cladding for the house (Photo: BBM)
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
32/53
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
Some of the 253 students and apprentices involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
33/53
Some of the 253 students and apprentices involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
Some of the 253 students and apprentices involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
34/53
Some of the 253 students and apprentices involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
35/53
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
36/53
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
37/53
Some 253 students and apprentices were involved in the building of the house (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
38/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
Some of the few new materials that went into Waste House include high-performance triple-glazed windows (Photo: BBM)
39/53
Some of the few new materials that went into Waste House include high-performance triple-glazed windows (Photo: BBM)
The house features 20 liters of second-hand paint (Photo: BBM)
40/53
The house features 20 liters of second-hand paint (Photo: BBM)
The construction process took one year (Photo: BBM)
41/53
The construction process took one year (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
42/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
43/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
44/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
45/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
Some 4,000 VHS video cassettes were used as wall insulation (Photo: BBM)
46/53
Some 4,000 VHS video cassettes were used as wall insulation (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
47/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
48/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
49/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
50/53
The Waste House during construction (Photo: BBM)
The house was completed in April this year (Photo: BBM)
51/53
The house was completed in April this year (Photo: BBM)
The house features 2 tons of denim jeans (Photo: BBM)
52/53
The house features 2 tons of denim jeans (Photo: BBM)
The construction process took one year (Photo: BBM)
53/53
The construction process took one year (Photo: BBM)

Can garbage be used as an eco-material to construct a house? That's the intriguing premise behind the recently-completed Waste House project, which is believed by those involved to be the first permanent British building built almost solely from waste and recycled materials. Constructed at the University of Brighton's Grand Parade campus, the Waste House is an ongoing experiment which aims to prove, in the organizer's own words, that "there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place."

A team of 253 students and apprentices led by BBM Architects Director and senior lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown spent three months designing, and another 12 building the house, with work completed in April this year. Around 90 percent of the materials that went into making the structure are waste products that were derived from various household and construction sites.

This included some 20,000 toothbrushes (used once by business and first class aircraft passengers), 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) of denim jeans, 4,000 DVD cases, 2,000 floppy discs, and 2,000 used carpet tiles – the latter used to clad the home's facade.

Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)
Interior shot of the Waste House (Photo: BBM)

The frame and floors of Waste House are made from recycled wood, and the house also features a rammed-earth wall built from compacted chalk waste and clay. The rammed earth wall, made from 11 tons (10 tonnes) of chalk waste and 10 percent of clay, adds to the structure's energy-efficiency thanks to its 35 cm (13.7 in) thickness and natural thermal properties.

In addition, 4,000 VHS video cassettes are used as wall insulation, 100 sheets of used and damaged plywood are used for flooring, joists, columns and other structural purposes, while 500 bike inner tubes serve as window seals and soundproofing.

Some of the few new materials that went into Waste House include high-performance triple-glazed windows, a breathable facade membrane, and high-performance skylights. There's also new electrical wiring and plumbing to meet modern safety and health standards.

Some of the few new materials that went into Waste House include high-performance triple-glazed windows (Photo: BBM)
Some of the few new materials that went into Waste House include high-performance triple-glazed windows (Photo: BBM)

It's hoped the lessons learned from the Waste House could lay the foundations for a new kind of sustainable architecture. A series of sensors in the external walls of Waste House will monitor the home's insulation properties at key points and measure just how efficiently the different materials perform. In the meantime, it will serve as an exhibition space and design studio, and is available to schools, colleges and community groups for green-themed events and workshops.

Baker-Brown gives a tour of the house pre-completion, revealing some of the materials used throughout.

Sources: BBM, University of Brighton

Brighton Waste House Preview 7 - Standing IN

9 comments
Anne Ominous
Pardon my language, but doesn't that make this a sh#t brickhouse?
flink
That's a very cool project. IMHO, more people would be willing to do this if there was a way to accomplish it without a long lead time or a needing a truck full of money.
Troy Sabean
I wonder what the real costs were associated with this building? Three months of design, and 12 months to build it... And to use plywood for structural roof rafters, and wall studs, I assume you would have to hire an engineer. I'd bet that the cost associated with sourcing appropriate garbage, extra designing / engineering fees, and non standard building would outweigh what it would cost to build with new materials - assuming you are an architect trying to design / build this way. If, however, you are (for lack of a better word) a redneck pulling garbage from the local dump, salvaging, and reusing discarded material with no regard for building codes or other legal parameters, then yes - feasible.
Don Duncan
I would like to know what binder was used in the chalk/clay rammed wall. Also, were the ingredients graded (screened) to a uniform size? What was the original source to the chalk, sheetrock?
Fred V.
So, when you say "garbage," you really mean used building materials and other dry trash. Garbage usually means food waste, which would be pretty hard to re-purpose into building materials. Video cassettes as insulation? I'd hate to think of the toxicity in case of fire.
JSSFB
I think that this is a very good project with many ideas that will be developed for the future and the experience gained by the students will add to their usefulness in the future. I do not think that it can be judged by normal standards as it is more of a concept than a house to live in, well done to all and something that will improve the future in the wrong world.
ddavel544
I firmly believe that particle board material is a direct source of many Thyroid health conditions. Even brand new carpeting has been linked to cancer, and other health issues. I can't begin to imagine what other toxicity levels exist in this garbage house. No, I would not live in it, even if it were for free!
yrag
QUESTION: What's the difference between a large shack and a socially responsible building of recycled materials? ANSWER: Multiple university degrees.
serge747
No city would ever allow it to be built in normal condition. They have to protect a system...
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.