A house made of waste? What will it look like? Will it be safe and economically sustainable? I know very well that often appealing “green” projects turn out to be more marketing than meat.
But Cat Fletcher, coordinator for the Brighton Waste House project and my guide for the day, is a whirl wind. She waits for me at Brighton Pier, on the seaside, and as she starts telling me about the Waste House I am immediately drawn in.
She explains that this project is meant to be prototype of a brand new model for the building industry. It is designed on a local basis, as an opportunity to put in touch all the different components involved in the process of building houses and planning urban centres, that would otherwise never communicate. It involves architects and architecture students, apprentices and builders, and of course citizens that provide materials to be recycled.
Old timber can be used to build walls or floors, but the real challenge is to recycle dangerous materials such as plastic and electronic waste. These materials, which people would normally throw away, are being burnt or buried. It doesn’t matter how advanced the disposal process is, a certain amount of toxic nanoparticles will always be released into the air, into the ground and eventually into the water.
However if we use them as insulation resource, as Cat and others who have worked on this similar projects have done, and trap them safely into the walls of our houses, they won’t cause any harm to the environment. And eventually they will improve the building’s energy efficiency.
Obviously, to turn a brilliant idea into reality, enthusiasm and commitment is not enough; behind the Waste House project there is an important body of research carried out by the University of Brighton concerning architecture and material science. Next week, I will meet the scientists that have made it possible at Ecobuild, in London. Stay tuned.
Check more pictures of Waste House on Pinterest