The House that Kevin Built 2012 The Brighton Waste House

Architecture lecturer to talk at TEDxBrighton

23 October 2013

Architecture lecturer Duncan Baker-BrownAre buildings made from old toothbrushes the future? Should architects look to create more buildings out of waste matter rather than materials that damage the environment?

Duncan Baker-Brown, lecturer, researcher and the architect behind a unique project to build the University of Brighton's Waste House, will call for a more ethical approach to building when he speaks at a TEDxBrighton event on Friday 25th October.

In his talk, Does architecture matter?, Duncan will criticise governments around the world, including the UK, for encouraging people to "burn their way out of recession" by their reliance on rapidly-depleting fossil fuels for economic growth.

He will say that power requires responsibility and that architects not only have a responsibility to design great buildings but to consider the possible negative consequences of the associated materials and construction systems they specify, and the energy consumption involved in the design, construction, use and demolition of buildings.

He will ask: "Is it correct or sensible even to continue to specify these materials when there are millions of tonnes of discarded 'waste' that could potentially take the place of newly-mined raw materials?"

The TEDxBrighton talk will be streamed live at

Duncan recently won the Green Person award for The Brighton Waste House at The Argus Achievement Awards. The house is built almost entirely of waste materials including thrown-away bricks, ply sheets and wood, plus old toothbrushes.

The inspiration for the Waste House was a house Duncan designed and constructed with Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, called The House That Kevin Built. It was made almost entirely of compostable materials such as straw, reeds, timber and hemp. It was built live on Channel 4's Grand Designs Live over six consecutive days, attracting over five million viewers a night.

The Brighton Waste House, which is due to be completed in February and will be one of the first A energy-efficient rated buildings in the UK, is being built in the grounds of the Faculty of Arts campus at Grand Parade.

Duncan helped to galvanise community groups, businesses, academics, schools and environmental groups to lend their support to the project. He has been at the forefront of sustainable design for over 20 years since he designed and built the RIBA Competition winning scheme 'the house of the Future' with partner Ian McKay in 1994. In 1997, as Co-Director of BBM, Duncan was part of the design team which won the competition to design The Greenwich Millennium Village in London. Since then he has practiced, researched and taught around issues of sustainable design and development.

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