There is an enormous amount of waste being produced by the building sector within the UK. Duncan Baker-Brown, an academic at the University of Brighton, states, “that for every five houses we build in the UK, the equivalent of one house in waste materials gets put into landfill.”1 (The Guardian, 2014) This alarming statistic is only made more concerning by the figures released by an American firm called Architecture 2030. In the US as of 2013, 75% of all electricity produced in the US went towards generating and powering buildings. 2 (Architecture 2030, 2013) It is clear that there is a huge amount of waste being created through the architectural and building sector that highlights some very unsustainable practices that continue not only through the stages of construction, but into the later stages of inhabitance.
Duncan Baker-Brown uses his platform as an educator at the Brighton University to test emerging theories in a student orientated design lab, and has dedicated his architectural career to sustainable housing. 3 (The Conversation, 2015) The Brighton Waste House is a design inititive in the UK that deals with the challenge of waste by repurposing ‘rubbish’ from other building sites that would have otherwise gone into landfill. During the period of May 2013 to April 2014, 4 (University of Brighton, 2014) 300 students built a house using over 85% waste materials, resulting in a building that was given an EPC ‘A’ Low Energy rating. 5 (University of Brighton, 2014) This ensures waste is not only minimalized (if not eradicated) at the early stages on architectural construction, but that design can prevent further waste from being created through energy consumption throughout the life of the house.
Materials that went into the construction of this house include 2000 carpet tiles for the exterior, offcuts of wood, 20000 toothbrushes 6 (The Guardian, 2014), date sensitive vinyl banners, VHS tapes, offcuts from jeans 7 (University of Brighton, 2014)and many more. All these materials would have otherwise formed landfill. Instead the students sourced these materials free of charge to create an entirely habitable home, with furnished and decorated interiors. The result is a contemporary sustainable living space.
Baker-Brown does recognise that this house is a model for the architectural industry to look towards for inspiration, as opposed to the next generation of housing types. It aims to inspire us to reimagine our use and sourcing of construction materials, and recognise that “There is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place”. 8 (University of Brighton, 2014)
(1) The Guardian, 2014, The House that 20000 toothbrushes Built, Oliver Wainwright, visited 27th April 2015, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/07/future-housing-rubbish-architecture-waste-sustainable-homes>
(2) Architecture 2030, 2013, Architecture 2030 Will Change the Way You Look at Buildings, visited 27th April 2015, http://architecture2030.org/the_problem/buildings_problem_why
(3) The Conversation, 2015, Duncan Baker-Brown, visited 27th April 2015, <https://theconversation.com/profiles/duncan-baker-brown-157737>
(4) University of Brighton, 2014, Brighton ‘Waste House’, visited April 27th 2015, <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/business-and-community/the-house-that-kevin-built/about>
(5) University of Brighton, 2014, Brighton ‘Waste House’, visited April 27th 2015, <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/business-and-community/the-house-that-kevin-built>
(6) The Guardian, 2014, The House that 20000 toothbrushes Built, Oliver Wainwright, visited 27th April 2015, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/07/future-housing-rubbish-architecture-waste-sustainable-homes>
(7) University of Brighton, 2014, Brighton ‘Waste House’, visited April 27th 2015, <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/business-and-community/the-house-that-kevin-built/about>
(8) University of Brighton, 2014, Brighton ‘Waste House’, visited April 27th 2015, <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/business-and-community/the-house-that-kevin-built/about>