Waste concrete and glass were used to create low-carbon bricks that form the facade of the renovated and expanded Design Museum Gent in Ghent, Belgium. The method of grinding construction waste into the mix and combining it with lime to form dry cured bricks cuts embodied carbon by two-thirds compared to a typical brick.



Waste from the city of Ghent, Belgium, is being turned into the building blocks of a major cultural institution. For a renovation and expansion of the Design Museum Gent, an innovative new recycling process is turning old bits of broken concrete and glass into the bricks that will cover the museum’s exterior.

And due to the local sourcing of base materials and the way the bricks harden, the material has just one-third the embodied carbon of a typical brick.The Gent Waste Brick will be used on the façade of the museum expansion, which has been designed by the London-based architects Carmody Groarke.

In partnership with materials designers BC Materials and Local Works Studio, Carmody Groarke developed a method for grinding construction waste materials like concrete and glass into a mix that, when combined with lime, could be formed into dry cured bricks.

Instead of digging up clay to make bricks or importing mass produced bricks from outside the region, the Gent Waste Brick is made with local materials and significantly less energy.“This is a version of urban mining,” says Kevin Carmody, co-founder of Carmody Groarke. “We’ve basically designed a recipe where you can plug in waste streams locally.”

For most of human history, building materials have been locally sourced, whether stone, timber or the clay used to make bricks. Industrialization and globalization have shifted that production, and now most building materials are made or extracted far from where they eventually get turned into buildings. That system is unlikely to go away, but the Gent Waste Brick proposes an alternative: