Social Innovation: The House That Kevin Built...Entirely Out of Waste

This autumn, the U.K.’s first sustainable and social innovation building to be built entirely out of waste will be constructed in the coastal town of Brighton. Designed by Brighton-based architect Duncan Baker-Brown, it will be built on the University of Brighton's campus in the city centre from waste and surplus materials sourced locally. Baker-Brown, co-founder of BBM Sustainable Design and a senior lecturer at Brighton’s arts faculty, says, "There is a huge pile of construction waste that's building up in this country and to ignore is quite frankly sinful. Through this project we are going to show that there is no such thing as waste."

The building is known asThe House That Kevin Built’ (THTKB) and named after Europe's first prefabricated house made entirely out of waste and organic material, which was also designed by Baker-Brown and built in 2008 in London. The team behind this current social innovation building have decided on this project for a number of reasons; the main one is that it is incredibly important to reuse and recycle because of the environment. Finding ways to build and live sustainably is a social imperative in our contemporary lives. The university aims to exceed EU targets for a 30 percent reduction in CO2emissions and become an exemplar for the city and the region in sustainable design and practice.  In the UK, 45 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions come from architectural structures. In addition, the construction of a traditional house produces considerable waste.

The walls of this current building will be made of waste timber products. Ply "cassettes" containing waste material will be slotted in between the timber structure. These cassettes will be removable so that new building social innovation technologies can be easily added and updated. The design team will set up a production line centrally in the town so that local people from students, apprentices to local builders and school children can all get involved with the making of the structure.

The building will feature the latest eco social innovation technologies such as fully integrated solar panels, whole-house ventilation and a heat recovery system. It will be used throughout its lifespan as a pilot for prototype construction systems, components and technologies. Once completed, it will contain an exhibition and workshop space for use by local community groups. The upstairs will be the university's headquarters for sustainable design.

In addition to using high tech windows and solar panels the project is now going to make THTKB out of locally sourced waste material from building sites, recycling centres and including Freegle (British organisation with free-of-charge membership that aims to increase reuse and reduce landfill via web forums where people can give away, and ask for, things that would otherwise be thrown away), making it a hugely ambitious initiative, which will really test the idea that " there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!" Work hopes to be completed by May 2013.

Photo Credit: University of Brighton, Faculty of Arts

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