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A British architect demonstrates how to trash a home with high style
Worldwide, buildings made out of garbage continue to pile up—a shed made of beer bottles, a cardboard church—thanks to a spectrum of artists, activists and attention-seekers. It’s hard to find an oil drum these days actually used for transporting oil. It’s only been recently, though, that anyone has attempted to build a permanent, contemporary home entirely out of trash.
The Waste House is a prototype currently under construction on a university campus in Brighton, England, using lumberyard leftovers, waste from local industries and whatever else its builders can lay their hands on. The walls of the two-story structure, which complies with U.K. building regulations, are ply boxes crammed with unwanted DVD cases, plastic razors, toothbrushes and other detritus. Insulation materials include bundles of denim.
But there’s nothing rough-hewn about the end result. The property resembles a sleek modern home, and will feature fully integrated solar panels, whole-house ventilation and a heat recovery system.
According to the project’s driving force, Duncan Baker-Brown at Brighton-based BBM Architects, the Waste House—which would cost $400,000 to replicate—is an effort to promote the use of reclaimable materials in the construction sector. While he says developers are waiting to appraise the finished house, the infrastructure that supports this approach is already beginning to take shape, thanks to eco-pioneers like the “superuse” movement in Europe.
Indeed, Baker-Brown foresees a day when DIY shops will be outnumbered by “Re-DIY” centers, where people can leave their household waste for others to utilize. There’s even a kind of trash aesthetic taking shape: Baker-Brown reveals that his prototype contains elements that turned out to be “too nice to hide,” such as discarded DVD covers that have been turned into light fixtures.
He says the building is on course to be finished before Christmas, which doesn’t seem like the best timing, considering the building material he could have snagged once people have opened their presents. —Boyd Farrow