What do 20,000 toothbrushes, 4,000 DVD cases, 4,000 VHS cassettes
, 200 rolls of wallpaper, 2,000 floppy disks, 2,000 trashed carpet tiles, and 2 metric tons of castoff denim
As students and faculty at the University of Brighton will tell you, a veritable mountain of waste — or rubbish, since we’re dealing with the U.K. here — can make you a very nice house — a rather lovely (and energy-efficient) contemporary abode that doesn’t scream “garbage” like some of its decidedly more "folksy
" cousins. The home manages to be tasteful, modern, and clean without completely obscuring the fact that it's constructed from secondhand bricks and plastic razors.
Recently completed on the University of Brighton
campus after 12 months of on-site work carried out by over 250 students and a small army of volunteers from several local organizations, the Brighton Waste House is a staggering feat of green building — the first permanent
building in the U.K. to be largely (85 percent) constructed from straight-up household garbage, landfill-bound surplus manufacturing materials, construction waste, and plastic refuse of all sorts.
Designed by sustainable architect and University of Brighton senior lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown
and constructed as a collaborative effort that sets out to prove “that there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place,” the Brighton Waste House will be used as an exhibition/party space, sustainable design studio, and living laboratory of sorts where the structure’s energy performance will be tested. How much energy can a structure that has old VHS copies of "Santa Claus: The Movie" and "Jerry Maguire" shoved into wall cavities actually save?
The Brighton Waste House aims to prove that fluffy, crumbly and organic low carbon materials can compete effectively with their more established high-energy, high-carbon counterparts. It will test innovative green prefabrication techniques as agents of waste reduction. The Waste House will use high-tech construction methods to reduce time on site, material waste and accuracy on site, and prove that a comprehensive understanding of lightweight insulations and heavyweight energy storage materials will result in a reduction of expensive high-tech equipment to create a low carbon house.
Do head on over to the Brighton Waste House homepage for more imagery, videos, and info including a complete list of the various groups — "social housing repair" firm Mears, British upcycling organization Freegle, Brighton & Hove City Council, etc. — that supported the project, be it with manpower, money or raw materials.
And about those toothbrushes, now used to fill cavities rather than prevent them: Where in the world does one stumble across 20,000 used oral hygiene tools?
In this case, the toothbrushes were collected via a partnership
with Gatwick Airport. Distributed to first-and business-class passengers flying from the airport, the single-use toothbrushes have found a much more useful fate than clogging British landfills.
Related stories on MNN: