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Building with Bricks Made from Industrial Waste

Studioninedots' "The TrueTalker" (2016) made with StoneCycling's WasteBasedBricks (photo by Peter Cuypers, all courtesy StoneCycling)
Studioninedots’ “The TrueTalker” (2016) made with StoneCycling’s WasteBasedBricks (photo by Peter Cuypers, all courtesy StoneCycling)

In August, a pair of architects will move into their new home in Rotterdam. Its rising walls are built of tan-colored bricks that, to the eye, seem like your typical building materials, but they are actually made entirely out of waste. Sourced from regional demolition sites, the bricks are a number offered by WasteBasedBricks, a project by the Netherlands-based startup StoneCycling that aims to help architects realize sturdy and sustainable designs without forgoing visual appeal.

"Raw" and "sliced" versions of the Aubergine, Caramel, Mushroom, and Nougat bricks (click to enlarge)
“Raw” and “sliced” versions of the Aubergine, Caramel, Mushroom, and Nougat bricks (click to enlarge)

Now commercially available, the WasteBasedBricks options arrive in a slew of shades, each one named for an edible it resembles. The “Aubergine” brick is purple with white dots; “Salami” looks just like a speckled cold cut; a room with walls made of “Wasabi” will surround you with a light shade of green. StoneCycling has developed a recipe that its team may tweak to produce many different types of bricks, all made of man’s discards. The company approaches its work as a craft, even hand-making some of the bricks depending on the project, which introduces even more unique touches.

“We would like to make an effort to stimulate people around the world to build in a circular way,” StoneCycling co-founder Ward Massa told Hyperallergic. “Working with waste is an opportunity to create new textures and colors that cannot be made when working with raw materials.”

The company first began creating bricks from local building demolitions but have also started to transform and pack industrial waste into construction material — typically an easier process as it does not involve having to convince building owners and demolition companies to tear down structures in a certain way that properly separates the materials. Massa emphasized that WasteBasedBricks is completely sanitary, with independent agencies testing the products to ensure they are fine for safe use.

"Raw" and "sliced" versions of the Salami and Truffle bricks
“Raw” and “sliced” versions of the Salami and Truffle bricks

The Rotterdam house will be the first waste-based residence made of these recycled materials, but another project has recently risen in Amsterdam. Truetalker, built in collaboration with architectural firm Studioninedots, was a pavilion made of “Caramel” bricks, designed as one wall that twisted around itself in the shape of a cone. It emerged for three weeks this month to mark the Netherlands’ holding of the European Union Presidency for the first half of the year and intended to encourage public discussions around a central campfire.

StoneCycling is looking forward to erecting more creative projects from regional refuse: many architects around the world, Massa said, have been reaching out with interest in incorporating WasteBasedBricks into their designs. The startup is willing to develop special bricks to suit specific projects, and its brick chefs have most recently concocted three new blocks: an icy-looking “Salt,” the brown “Lentil,” and “Radish” — which resembles a classic red brick.

“Reuse will be a hot topic in the coming decades,” Massa said. “Policies in Europe are changing towards that direction. The public is demanding more ambition in terms of sustainable or circular building, and real estate developers are slowly finding out that it is a unique selling point.”

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Production of WasteBasedBricks
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Production of WasteBasedBricks
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Production of WasteBasedBricks
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Production of WasteBasedBricks
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Composite walls made of WasteBasedBricks
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Studioninedots’ “The TrueTalker” in process of being built (photo by Peter Cuypers)
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Studioninedots’ “The TrueTalker” made with StoneCycling’s WasteBasedBricks (photo by Peter Cuypers)
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