Finding new ways to use recycled and waste materials

As the cost of building materials continues to rise there is a big push to find alternatives that are both cheap and readily available. There is also a great opportunity for people to make more of an effort to protect the environment, either by using recycled products or reducing the amount of waste they produce. Many everyday items that people throw away can be reused as building materials, bringing savings on construction costs and protecting the environment in the process. We believe every architect in London and throughout the world can benefit from more sustainable practise and careful use of materials.

A special project called the Waste House based at the University of Brighton shows just how far you can go to build a property from recycled items. The house is built almost completely from rubbish and discarded materials including things like old coffee cups, lighting that was set to be thrown away, old floor tiles and jeans. The most impressive use of recycled materials could be the insulation which sees 4,000 video cassettes and 20,000 toothbrushes used to trap heat. Other building materials like concrete blocks and timbers were surplus from building sites.

The Brighton Waste House is unique in the UK and was built with input from several different groups, including students, local builders, apprentices and volunteers. Local schoolchildren also helped out on the project to help them learn about the importance of recycling and protecting the environment. The joint nature of the project shows what can be achieved when various groups work together towards a set goal.

The project is a success in terms of what can be achieved with recycled materials and the cost benefits that can be achieved from doing so. When tested to determine its energy efficiency it achieved an A rating, a fantastic feat for something made entirely from salvages building products and waste. Architects can look at the project and get an idea of what can be achieved with some ingenuity and knowledge of materials. Although the design may not appeal to everybody’s taste it is a very impressive success and one that is likely to inspire other people to try similar things.