Carmody Groarke develops low carbon brick | Museum upgrade

A visual showing the external facing façade of the new wing development at the Design Museum Gent

Carmody Groarke has developed a low carbon brick made from recycled municipal waste, which will be used in the construction of the Design Museum Gent’s new wing. 

Designed in collaboration with Local Works Studio, BC Materials, and TRANS Architecture, the Gent waste brick is made from 63% recycled crushed concrete and glass, and will be used to build the external facing façade of the museum’s transformational extension. By using these lime-cured, local waste bricks, the aim is to lower the embodied carbon used in the project’s construction. 

According to Carmody Groarke, the new Gent waste brick has a third of the embodied carbon at a typical Belgian clay brick over a 60-year life cycle. The London-based architecture practice worked with a team of material experts to develop the brick and collaborated closely with the Design Museum Gent to produce a highly crafted, bespoke material object that embodies the culture and ethos of the institution. Not only this, but it also adds to the lineage of design objects displayed and cared for by the museum. 

“By creating a brick made from recycled waste, the Design Museum Gent is not opting for the easy solution, but rather the most ecological, innovative, and visually appealing process,” said Sami Schepen, Alderman for Culture and Chairman of urban development company sogent. 

“With this progressive research project, sogent takes a pioneering role in the development of a new sustainable, circular material.”

As part of a larger masterplan to transform the Design Museum Gent, the museum is undertaking this major renovation project to extend its existing buildings. It is estimated that by using the Gent waste brick instead of a typical Belgian clay brick, in the construction of the new wing, that a saving of 107 tonnes CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) will be made. 

The five-storey building will contain a stack of galleries and activity spaces, as well as a basement archive providing visitor access to behind-the-scenes processes

“The building’s façade has been designed to reference the light-toned civic buildings in Gent. The pale coloured brick and white mortar is composed of locally sourced municipal waste streams as aggregate including crushed concrete and white glass with lime as the primary binding agent,” explain the architects at Carmody Groarke. 

“All composite materials have been carefully selected to create a white tone. The waste materials are meticulously filtered and sorted at a production centre in the heart of Gent, before being pressed into their specified shape and size.”

As well as the circularly economy, the local community has been placed at the heart of this project. For example, as part of the museum’s unique engagement programme, local residents will be given the opportunity to help make a brick. 

Work is set to start on the new wing in early 2023, and when completed it will house new galleries and event spaces to help broaden the museum’s cultural programming and visitor outreach. 

Project details:

Project name: Gent Waste Brick for DING

Commissioning client: sogent and Design Museum Gent

Design team: Carmody Groarke

Development partners: BC Materials (Belgium); Local Works Studio (UK)

Architect: Carmody Groarke; TRANS Architecture; RE-ST

Structural Engineer: Ney & Partners

Service Engineer: Boydens Engineering

Acoustic Consultants: Daidalos Peutz

CDM Coordinator: AB Solid

Community involvement and participation: Endeavor

Photography: Cinzia Romanin, Thomas Noceto, and Bart van Leuven

Photos courtesy of Carmody Groarke.

Take a look at more internationally recognised projects by architecture studio Carmody Groarke.

Read more sustainable architecture and design news on enki, from Mecanoo’s energy positive Brink Tower to be built in Amsterdam to Adam Knibb’s construction of an eco home for a climate scientist.

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