Clear Architects has secured £116k of funding from Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, to develop a commercially viable building material from ‘throw-away’ consumer products. The practice applied for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to spearhead the development of a unique building material constructed from consumer waste products that currently end up in landfill.
As part of the KTP, Clear Architects has entered a partnership with The University of Wolverhampton to explore the design and manufacture of innovative SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), which it hopes will contribute to reshaping the future of construction, helping to embed greater sustainability practices in the sector.
Melanie Clear, Founder & Director Clear Architects says:
“This ambitious project with the University of Wolverhampton furthers our work on sustainable materials, an area the whole practice is extremely passionate about.
“Reducing landfill and finding a creative use for our consumer waste products is important for all industries. I believe we in the construction industry can and should be doing more to provide solutions that really ‘move the needle’ on building a sustainable future.
“It is especially gratifying to know that even a small practice such as Clear Architects can make a real contribution, applying both our design creativity and our commercial experience, in an attempt to be part of the solution for a more sustainable built environment. Personally, I am incredibly proud to be driving research into quantifiable product development in the construction sector.”
What is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)?
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership brings together entrepreneurial businesses who understand the commercial reality and application of innovative sector-specific products, with academics who specialise in sustainability and manufacturing. This three-way project also offers ambitious graduates the opportunity to work with an organisation and a leading university on cutting-edge research and development (R&D) projects.
The KTP is a 2-year contract with a Mechanical Engineer who will project-manage the KTP programme, including materials development & testing, prototyping, supply chain management, investment planning and the manufacture of innovative panels aiming to contain up to 50% waste materials.
The project goal is – within two years – to construct a prototype building demonstrating the new, recycled and high-performance SIPs panel. This would indicate that the new material could be scaled as a sustainable, commercially viable product for widespread adoption by the construction industry.
Dr David Heesom and Professor Mohammed Arif, University of Wolverhampton say:
“The University of Wolverhampton is delighted to be partnering with Clear Architects in this Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Focused on sustainable product development, it draws on the expertise and research themes embedded across the School of Architecture and the Built Environment.
“The academic team is excited to be supporting what we believe will be a successful initiative that will develop exemplary products for the Sustainable Built Environment.”
Industry commendation for sustainability
Clear Architects has previously been highly commended for its work on sustainable material development by Grand Designs for an innovative starter-home concept that used shredded coffee cups for high-performance insulation. Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs presenter and judge said: “This was a radical design which might form the basis of a home that could utilise other recycled materials, for example by using old car tyres to form the foundations.”
Clear Architects also led a debate in the Grand Theatre at Grand Designs Live in November 2018 for a design concept for pop-up, sustainable homeless shelters. Sustainability plays a crucial role in Clear Architect’s headquarters, which is currently undergoing ambitious expansion plans.
The Epping Forest studio has undergone major refurbishment and expansion works, including introducing solar technology with Tesla powerwalls for energy storage, a ‘green’ roof, as well as a rainwater harvesting system used in flushing toilets and watering the herb garden.
A member of the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB), Clear Architects recently launched a new architectural studio in the New Forest, in the south-west, specialising in designing modern harmonious architecture in restricted planning environments.