A grand old pile of rubbish

Britain’s first house built almost entirely of rubbish by students and school children is opening its doors next week.

6th June 2014

Britain’s first house built almost entirely of rubbish by students and school children is opening its doors next week.

This house’s normal appearance hides its unusual components, including 19,800 toothbrushes, two tonnes of denim jeans, 4,000 video cassettes, and 2,000 carpet tiles. In fact, 95% of the house is made from rubbish.

Tuesday 10 June will see this unconventional construction, at the University of Brighton’s Grand Parade campus, open its doors to the public.

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% of everything it uses, the equivalent of scrapping one in five houses built.

Designer and TV presenter Kevin McCloud and University of Brighton lecturer and architect Duncan Baker-Brown launched the project in 2012.

Baker-Brown decided to build the first waste house in the grounds of the university’s campus in Brighton.

The scheme is backed by Brighton and Hove City Council, and a host of private companies and organisations, one of which is internet-based reuse organisation FREEGLE UK.

Freegle’s Cat Fletcher said, “There really isn’t such a thing as rubbish, it’s just stuff in the wrong place.”

It’s an attitude that Baker Brown and McCloud used during the construction of the house.

Baker-Brown said, “The building is literally locking in waste rather having it burnt, buried into landfill sites or dumped in the ocean.

“The 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 FREEGLE UK, is to test the performance of these undervalued resources over the next few years; the university’s Faculty of Science & Engineering has put sensors in the external walls to monitor their performance.” 

David Pendegrass, Project Manager with fellow project contributors Mears, said, “We are testing the toothbrushes and other thrown away items for their insulation qualities.

"We’re also testing chalk – a lorry-load was heading for a landfill site but we diverted it here, mixed it with water, compacted it and, so far, it has proved a great insulating material."

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