Construction has begun on the UK’s first house made almost entirely of thrown-away waste material. Old toothbrushes, discarded video tapes and Christmas decorations are among the “rubbish” being tested for suitability to help rebuild TV designer Kevin McCloud’s famous House that Kevin Built.
The project is led by the University of Brighton and the house is being constructed in the grounds of its Faculty of Arts campus in Grand Parade, Brighton. Thrown-away bricks, ply sheets and wood are among the materials that will be used for the house which was originally built in six days in 2008 by McCloud and architect Duncan Baker-Brown, a University of Brighton senior lecturer. Now known as the Brighton Waste House, the scheme is backed by McCloud himself and is being supported by Brighton and Hove City Council, the Mears Group and a host of companies.
The aim is to show how low-carbon homes can be built cheaply and quickly using waste including surplus material from building sites – the construction industry discards 20 per cent of everything it uses, the equivalent of scrapping one in five houses built. Thrown-away items such as second-hand denim from jeans will be tested for their insulation properties. Some material will be new including solar panels and high-performance windows and doors. Students, apprentices, local builders and school children will be involved with the making of the structure, with the ambition to train students and apprentices around emerging green industries. The house will showcase new technologies and will continue to be retrofitted, allowing designers and students to test their windows, solar panels, insulation and construction materials.
Several departments from City College Brighton and Hove’s Building Trades area will be involved in the project, covering skills such as bricklaying, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and painting and decorating. Michael Buckman, City College’s Director of Building Trades, said: "It will be a fantastic opportunity for nearly a hundred of our learners to not only get valuable on-site experience but also gain insights into new architectural styles and the latest building techniques."
Caroline Lucas MP, who attended the launch of the project, said: "I think this project provides a wonderful opportunity for students at City College because it gives them the chance to get hands-on experience of cutting-edge architecture and building and this is absolutely the best way forward because this house is going to go down in history as the first Waste House and these students will have been involved from the outset."
Duncan Baker-Brown said: "The building will literally lock in waste rather having it burnt, buried into landfill sites or dumped in the ocean."
Kevin McCloud has endorsed the project: "I'm very pleased that the University of Brighton is committed to exploring new low-carbon methods of building. It's exciting to think that the campus could have its own practical demonstration building and I'm delighted to be connected to the university through this innovative piece of construction."
Alongside Brighton & Hove City Council, City College and Mears Group - UK’s leading provider of social housing repair and maintenance – South Downs Solar, which is providing solar panels, Westgate Joinery (triple-glazed windows and doors), and Work This Way, the charity and social enterprise company providing training and employment opportunities for prisoners.
Gary Lester from Mears said: "The Waste House is a unique project which provides a once in a life time opportunity for our apprentices to be at the forefront of sustainable development and will create a legacy for future generations."
Once complete the house will be used as an exhibition and workshop space by local community groups and will also be used as the university's headquarters for sustainable design.
The project will demonstrate the process of building and once complete the house will one of the first A* energy-efficient rated buildings in the UK.
The effectiveness of solar panels and thermal insulation will be monitored by university students from the School of Environment and Technology and Faculty of Art’s architecture students will be involved in the construction process. Interior architecture students will advise on internal design.
Digital media will be used as part of the learning process. A dedicated Faculty of Arts website will preserve all aspects of the project while Apps and QR (Quick Response) codes will be developed to inform people about how each area of the house was constructed.
Baker-Brown added: “This research will inform developments in the construction industry and in the design of houses of the future, and the building will have its own street entrance – putting the house at the heart of the community.
"Reusing waste saves money for big business as well as small, and it relieves pressure on our plant. There really is no such thing as waste or surplus material – it is just stuff in the wrong place – and reusing it saves the environment by reducing the need to mine so much raw material in the first place.
"This is good news for all industries that make things because the cost of raw material and the price of throwing things away is sky-rocketing. Businesses can’t afford to keep throwing stuff away and those who start reusing waste will be more likely to survive in the ever-tougher commercial marketplace."
About City College Brighton and Hove: Situated in the heart of Brighton and graded ‘Outstanding’ in key areas by Ofsted in its June 2011 report, City College Brighton and Hove is an international centre of vocational excellence and one of the top performing Further Education Colleges in the country. Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part time, 400 Higher Education and 400 14-16 year old students as well as many international and European students choose City College as their place of further and higher education training. In addition, the College provides training to over 2,000 businesses via its ‘City Business Skills’ department which focuses on employer training needs. Offering over 700 courses from basic level right through to business and postgraduate training, City College is working with its partners to develop the workforce of the future.
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