Risen from the ashes

Clay Technology magazine
,
16 Aug 2018

With more effort going into developing a circular economy, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, has built a house using recycled materials, Ines Nastali reports.

The Urban Mining and Recycling Experimental Unit near Zurich, Switzerland, exclusively consists of compostable, recyclable, and reusable construction materials and features a mixture of lab and living space.

‘For the three-room apartment of 125m2, primary resources, such as untreated silver fir wood were used, but also second-hand elements. The copper plates framing the façade formerly covered the roof of a hotel in Austria, the door handles come from a bank in Belgium. The building rubble was turned into new bricks, beverage carton packages were converted into wall coverings,’ the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, reports on its website.

In addition, entirely new construction materials were used, such as compostable insulation boards made of mycelium, a material consisting of fungal tissue and saw dust.

The team also kept the after use of the building in mind. ‘Instead of bonding or foaming joints, screwing, clamping, or plugging were preferred to ensure later recycling and reuse of the materials,’ it is stated. 

A research team from the specially funded Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies project, will study if the building methods stand the test of time over the next five years. To be as close as possible to their work, two students moved into the three bedroom apartment in May.