In the heart of Ghent, Belgium, a groundbreaking approach to sustainable construction is breathing new life into the city’s waste, transforming it into an eco-friendly material for the Design Museum Gent’s new extension.

The project, a collaboration between London’s Carmody Groarke architects, TRANS architects, BC Materials, and Local Works Studio, has pioneered the “Gent Waste Brick,” an innovative solution that repurposes old concrete and glass into bricks with significantly reduced carbon footprint.

Utilizing a unique blend of crushed construction debris and locally sourced lime, the Gent Waste Brick embodies the essence of urban mining. Kevin Carmody, a visionary behind the project, emphasizes the importance of local waste streams in creating a sustainable building material that aligns with traditional methods of sourcing.

This initiative not only addresses the environmental impact of construction but also reconnects the community with the rich architectural heritage of Ghent, once known for its brick-built splendor.

Remarkably, the production of these bricks deviates from conventional methods by avoiding high-temperature kiln firing, instead opting for a dry curing process. This not only conserves energy but also enables the bricks to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide, further enhancing their sustainability credentials.

The process, adaptable to various materials, even experimented with incorporating beer bottles, although challenges arose due to their sugar content.

Despite some limitations, such as increased susceptibility to freeze-thaw cycles, the project’s innovative design compensates with architectural adjustments that embrace the local climate.

The Belgian government’s certification of the Gent Waste Brick for the museum project underscores its potential for broader application, challenging existing regulations and encouraging a reevaluation of what constitutes a building material.

As this pioneering project progresses towards completion in 2024, it stands as a testament to the possibilities of sustainable construction and the transformative power of community engagement in urban development.

The Gent Waste Brick not only represents a step forward in eco-friendly building practices but also serves as a model for integrating local resources and waste into new constructions, offering a blueprint for future projects worldwide.

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