‘Radical’ coffee cup starter home praised by industry experts at Grand Designs Live

Clear Architects was commended for its “radical” coffee cup starter home concept at the “Self Build on a Shoestring” Award, hosted by TV architect Charlie Luxton at Grand Designs Live on 20 October.

Clear Architects’ innovative start-home concept was of a pre-fabricated modular ‘kit home’ that incorporated used shredded coffee cups for insulation between timber frames and stacked coffee cups wrapped in waterproof membrane for rainwater pipes. The design also proposed a living ‘green roof’, solar heated water system and flame retardant walls and flooring. It would cost around £40,000 to build.

Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs presenter and judge says:

“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”.

To view Clear Architects’ entry, click here.

Fewer than 1 per cent of takeaway coffee cups are recycled – 3 million out of an annual estimated 3 billion coffee cups – and the UK has only two specialist recycling plants able to delaminate the plastic lining of the cups before paper pulping.

Melanie Clear, founder of Essex-based Clear Architects, says:

“As avid coffee drinkers, we were horrified by the numbers of non-recycled coffee cups and that gave us the idea for this competition entry.

“As a practice we work hard to create beautiful and functional architectural designs that are considerate of the environment too. In the face of a housing crisis, where so many find it difficult to get a foot on the property ladder, our Coffee Cup House shows that it is more than possible to provide solutions that benefit home buyers, builder/developers and the environment.

“As a team more usually associated with luxury residential developments, we are delighted to have been able to demonstrate that budget is no barrier to architectural innovation and creativity. We are thrilled to have received such glowing feedback and praise from the esteemed judges, and to have been recognised as finalists in this prestigious competition.”

The previous night on 19 October, Clear Architects’ 40 Hill Road residential project won Gold for its supplier SIPCO at the Structural Timber Awards 2016.

The government has announced plans to build 200,000 starter homes across the UK within the next four years which will all be priced under £250,000 or (£450,000 in London).  The “Self Build on a Shoestring” award is an annual competition hosted by the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) to highlight that houses can be constructed much more cheaply. It launched the competition to champion cost-effective, ‘green’ and beautifully designed self-build concepts.

This year, submissions were received from Australia, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam and from across the UK. They were judged by architectural heavyweights including Kevin McCloud, Charlie Luxton, George Clarke and Wayne Hemingway, with the top 12 finalists’ concepts exhibited at the Grand Designs Live event in Birmingham on 20 October.

Michael Holmes, NaCSBA Chairman and judge says:

“We loved the ingenuity of this entry which really highlights the potential of recycled waste materials in construction; in this instance, the six million paper coffee cups used each day, 99.75 percent of which end up in landfill.

“The houses of tomorrow can be truly sustainable, making use of recycled paper as cellulose insulation, recycled waste or low grade timber for structural sheet material for walls, floors and roofs; or as structural beams, recycled glass for kitchen worktops and much more.”