University of Brighton Waste House

By | 2nd May 2017

University of Brighton Waste House

Waste House is a building on the University of Brighton campus in the centre of Brighton on the south coast of England. It was built between 2012 and 2014 as a project involving hundreds of students and apprentices and was designed by Duncan Baker-Brown, an architect who also lectures at the university. The materials consist of a wide range of construction industry and household waste—from toothbrushes and old jeans to VHS cassettes and bicycle inner tubes—and it is the first public building in Europe to be built primarily of such products. “From a distance [resembling] an ordinary contemporary town house”, Waste House is designed to be low-energy and sustainable, and will be in continuous use as a test-bed for the university’s design, architecture and engineering students. The building has won several awards and was shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stephen Lawrence Prize in September 2015.

Waste House has its origins in an earlier project by Duncan Baker-Brown, a senior lecturer at the university and a director of architecture firm BBM Sustainable Design based at Cooksbridge railway station in East Sussex. On Channel 4 television programme The House That Kevin Built (2008), he and designer and television presenter Kevin McCloud assembled a “low-energy … ecologically friendly” prefabricated house made of organic materials. It was the first such building to be constructed in the United Kingdom. Baker-Brown was responsible for the design of this building, which was in turn referred to as “The House that Kevin Built”. Originally Baker-Brown planned simply to take down the building and re-erect it at the University. Instead, the temporary building formed the prototype for Waste House, and since 2008 work has been undertaken at the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts to develop the ideas and techniques used on the programme in order to build a permanent house which can be used to test materials, construction theories and new techniques. It is intended to be “a real live research project” as well as a building which the university and other groups can use.