Waste House, in Brighton University

The Brighton Waste House is a ‘live' research project and permanent new design workshop focused on sustainable development. It is situated on campus at The University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts at Grand Parade.

Designed by BBM Director Duncan Baker-Brown (Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton) together with undergraduate students, this project was built by apprentices from The Mears Group, students from City College Brighton & Hove and The Faculty of Arts as well as volunteers.

In 2008 BBM Sustainable Design designed The House That Kevin Built (THTKB) for Grand Designs Live on Channel 4 with Kevin McCloud. This was Europe’s first prefabricated house made almost entirely of organic replenishable material as well as being the UK’s first A+ rated house. THTKB was only up for two days although 6,000 visited it in that time. It was then taken down and its parts distributed around the UK to create other buildings.

Since 2009 the University of Brighton has been trying to rebuild THTKB on campus at The Faculty of Art Grand Parade as a live research project and community facility. Having cast the low carbon foundations on site with the amazing support of The Mears Group in 2012 and following the installation of 20000 toothbrushes, 2 tonnes of denim jeans, 4000 DVD cases, 2000 floppy discs, 2000 used carpet tiles (to clad the facades) and with the hard work of 253 students and apprentices we have now been able to complete The Brighton Waste House in June 2014.

The Brighton Waste House is the first permanent building in the UK to be constructed from waste, surplus material and discarded plastic gathered from the construction industry, other industries and our homes. The idea, developed with Cat Fletcher of FREEGLE UK, is to test the performance of these undervalued resources over the next few years; the Faculty of Science & Engineering have put sensors in the external walls to monitor the buildings performance. One of the main aims of the project was to prove ‘that there is no such thing and waste, just stuff in the wrong place’.

Now an open design research studio, run in partnership with our colleagues delivering the Sustainable Design MA on campus, the Brighton Waste House will be available to schools, colleges and community groups for ‘green’ themed events and any interested parties can join in with sustainable design workshops and events curated by designers, artists, makers, builders, scientists, writers-in-residence or whoever else is interested.

The project has been very fortunate to receive the enlightened support of Brighton & Hove City Council Planning & Building Control departments, as well as the generous contributions of suppliers within the contraction industry. The Waste House is a carbon negative building combining the latest in renewable technologies, but now we will be tackling another huge 21st Century issue, that of what can be done to reduce the impact our plundering of the Earths resources is having upon our beautiful planet?

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