Architecture studios Carmody Broarke and TRANS Architectuur are commissioned to design the new wing of Design Museum Gent, in Gent, Belgium, to form a link between its existing galleries. Known as DING (Design in Gent), the new wing aims to improve circulation and provide additional exhibition space at the museum, which currently has three individual buildings. 

Gent Waste Brick

As part of the project, Carmody Broarke and TRANS Architectuur collaborated with Local Works Studio and BC Materials to develop the ‘Gent Waste Brick,’ which is a low-carbon brick made from recycled municipal waste from the city of Gent. The material will be used for the construction of the new wing of Design Museum Gent. This will help the architects lower the embodied carbon used in the project’s construction and meet the client’s brief for the new extension. The project has been funded through a grant from Circular Flanders and sogent, on behalf of the city.

According to the architects, the design of the building’s facade is inspired by the light-toned civic buildings in Gent. The team used locally sourced municipal waste streams as aggregated including crushed concrete and white glass with lime as the primary binding agent for the pale-colored brick and white mortar. They carefully selected all composite materials to create a white tone. Before being pressed into their specified shape and size, the waste materials are meticulously filtered and sorted at a production center in Gent. 

Carmody Broarke explains that the Gent Waste Brick is cured instead of fired to gain strength from carbonation. The hydraulic lime captures CO2 from the atmosphere as the bricks cure, sequestering carbon over the life of the building. Additionally, the design team worked closely together to specify a low-in embodied carbon material composition that will deliver the required strength and resilience for use in external conditions. The process, together with the use of recycled composites, results in brick with 0.17kg CO2e/kg, just ⅓ the embodied carbon of a Belgian clay-fired brick.

Throughout the process, the team has worked closely with the Design Museum Gent to produce a highly crafted, bespoke material object that embodies the culture and ethos of the institution, challenging the material qualities and aesthetic properties of a traditional brick and adding to the lineage of design objects displayed and cared for by the museum. 

A brownfield site in Gent will manufacture the bricks using a clean simple production process that could easily be replicated in other urban settings. This process will have no resultant emissions, by-products, or waste. 

The construction of the new wing is due to start later this year. 

Photos by Cinzia Romanin & Thomas Noceto, Bart van Leuven

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