Waste House

Grand Parade Campus, University of Brighton

Client: University of Brighton, Brighton and Hove City College
Build Cost: £140K + product donations + volunteer labour
Contractor: Mears Group and their apprentices in collaboration with Brighton and Hove City College students
BBM Responsibilities:  Project Architect, material searches and research and  contract administrator


The brief for this project was to design and construct a permanent academic building that was also an open studio to be used by local community groups, businesses, schools & colleges. The ambition was to construct the building using material discarded by others and crucially to include students and other young people in the design and build process; using it as a ‘live’ pedagogic tool.

The Brighton Waste House opened in June 2014 and continues to be a ‘live’ on-going research project and permanent new design workshop focused on enabling open discussion and understanding of sustainable development. Situated on campus at The University of Brighton’s College for Arts & Humanities at Grand Parade, the Waste House was designed by Senior Lecturer & Architect Duncan Baker-Brown.

In the spirit of the open and accessible nature of the project, the Waste House was built by students and volunteers, including undergraduate architecture and interior architecture students, apprentices from The Mears Group, and students from City College Brighton & Hove.

Following Duncan Baker-Brown’s motto “there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!”, the Brighton Waste House is the first permanent ‘carbon negative’ public building in Europe to be constructed from approximately 90% waste, including surplus material and discarded plastic gathered from the construction industries and our own homes. Despite such unusual material sources, the Waste House has Full Planning & Building Regulations Approvals.

Cat Fletcher, founder of FREEGLE UK, suggested that we use this project to draw attention to the huge environmental consequences of throwing away everyday consumable domestic objects. Therefore the Waste House also ‘locks away’ other sources of waste material, such as duvets and toothbrushes, often using them as low to medium grade insulation.

We are currently testing the performance of the unusual fabric of the Waste House. The Faculty of Science & Engineering embedded sensors in the external walls to monitor their performance. Our ambition is to create a lively debate within the world of architecture and design and beyond about the huge potential within ‘The Circular Economy’, and to encourage creative thought while highlighting that many positive things are actually happening in UK and beyond.

During the 12 month construction period the Waste House site was visited by more than 750 primary and secondary school pupils, many of whom brought their old tooth brushes to help fill the wall cavities.

Now an open design research studio, run in partnership with our colleagues delivering the Sustainable Design MA on campus, the Brighton Waste House is available to schools, colleges and community groups for ‘green’ themed events. Any interested parties can join in with sustainable design workshops and events curated by designers, artists, makers, builders, scientists, and writers-in-residence.

For further information check out the Waste House website: http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/projects/wastehouse 

Closing the loop, Research/ Teaching, Special projects and exhibitions