The house made of rubbish

Words: Kiara Pecenko

A carbon negative house made almost entirely of rubbish opened at the University of Brighton last week after two years of design and construction.

Two tonnes of denim jeans, 4000 video cassettes and a truckload of chalk are just some of the building materials used to construct the carbon negative house.

The project was led by university lecturer and architect Duncan Baker-Brown, with endorsement and support from designer and TV presenter Kevin McCloud in an effort to show that what we classify as “rubbish” can be turned into something useful and permanent.

The house was built by construction students, school children, private companies and community groups and was constructed from 85% waste, including surplus material from building sites.

The construction industry discards 20% of all materials used, effectively meaning scrapping one in every five houses built. By using this discarded waste, as well as less conventional materials, such as toothbrushes and vinyl banners for insulation, “the building is literally locking in waste, rather than having it burnt, buried in landfill or dumped in the ocean,” says Baker-Brown.

The results of using these alternative materials in the building have been thoroughly tested, and are showing some fascinating results. Ten tonnes of chalk were mixed with 10% clay to create a rammed earth wall in the house that will lock warmth in for up to 12 hours. The effectiveness of high tech construction methods also resulted in reduced waste and time on site, as well as increased accuracy.

Now completed, the house will be used as an exhibition and workshop space by local community groups, and will be the new headquarters for the university’s sustainable design students. It will continue to be retrofitted, allowing designers and students to conduct testing on window panes, solar panels, and alternative insulation and construction materials used.

Click here for more information on the project.

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