From houses to yurts, recycled materials like glass bottles and discarded plastics can be used to make inhabitable and attractive shelters. With a surplus of trash all over the world, building with garbage may be the wave of the future, as this house -- constructed with 85 percent waste, using items like video cassettes, toothbrushes and carpet tiles -- hopes to prove.
There are indeed some interesting materials here: the house's foundations have been made from blast furnace slag, while framing and structural supports have been made from recycled plywood and timber rescued from another local house that was taken down. The home's inner walls have been filled with blocks of 'insulation' made from things like 20,000 toothbrushes, thousands of floppy discs and DVD cases, and two tons of denim waste. Ten tons of chalk waste from another construction site was pounded, rammed-earth style, to form one wall. Discarded vinyl signs were reused as vapour barriers all around the structure, while 2,000 old carpet tiles were reinstated as exterior cladding. The project features sensors that will measure and record the insulating properties of these materials over the years.
The house took about a year to design and build, and was completed with the help of over 250 students from various institutions and disciplines. The house is built to openly showcase the materials used, with 'truth windows' showing the inner walls, educative displays and more. The house will operate as a "living laboratory" and as an open design research studio, in conjunction with the university's sustainable design program, and will be used in the future for themed events and workshops. Says Baker-Brown:
There have been a lot of other projects where people have built sheds or temporary things out of rubbish, but to get full building regulations and planning approval is a first. [..] The idea is that students learn how to accommodate whole-house ventilation and heat recovery into a design. It's all exposed so people can see what's going on.
You can see the Brighton Waste House bulletins on Youtube, offering insight into its construction from start to finish:
Students have also been constructing the home's furnishing out of waste too, keeping in line with the project's theme of waste reduction and energy efficiency. We will be excited to see how effective these low-tech materials will contribute in making a low-carbon house; in the meanwhile, check out the Brighton Waste House's site and Facebook page.