BRIDGE: Building Research and Innovative Deals for the Green Economy

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Sharing our experience of BRIDGE Club

MW Edulearn Barcelona 070714The INTERREG funded BRIDGE project : (Building Research and Innovative Deals in a Green Economy) has provided the impetus to facilitate a trans-disciplinary forum for students and staff at all levels with links to specialist practitioners in sustainable design practice.  In July we had the opportunity to share this experience at  Edulearn 14: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies in Barcelona by presenting the paper : The True Value of Materials: Establishing a community of Practice and Trans-disciplinary learners via a funded Research Project to establish a new ‘live teaching education model (Dr J Farrer, M.Walker)

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Is waste the new raw material?

On 27th June Dr Joan Farrer and the Brighton BRIDGE Research Team hosted : The True Value of Materials: Waste a one day symposium at the ECO TECHNOLOGY SHOW in Brighton, where we had a stand to showcase science and design research and development that demonstrates re-use of waste materials. Stefano Santilli has designed a contemporary iteration of a Costermongers barrow that demonstrates the potential re- use of ash, and offcuts of hardwoods inlaid into the surface, with a woven canopy constructed by 3D Design and Craft and Textiles students, under the supervision of Stefano and Toni Hicks.

Our partners in the INTERREG funded BRIDGE project  from France and the UK joined us: Miriade, ESitCaen, ESitpa, WSX Enterprise, Medway Council. The symposium, hosted and conceived by Dr Farrer and opened by Professor Anne Boddington,  brought speakers together to consider : Is waste the new raw material? chaired by Professor Gillian Youngs, and included  Professor Marie Harder  head of the Waste and Energy Research Group, Cat Fletcher of Freegle, Re-use Manager at Brighton and Hove Council and Materials Co-ordinator for Brighton Waste House,  Richard Mehmed, Managing Director of the National Community Wood Recycling Project; Duncan Baker Brown architect and co-ordinator of the Brighton Waste House,  Dr Iain Allan and Dr Cressida Bowyer, School of Pharmacy and Bio-molecular Sciences on the Biocare Marine project, David Saunders, Project Manager of the Flimwell Woodland Enterprise CentreGwladys Lemenand European Projects Manager at Miriade, who presented the online networking tool: BRIDGE Ecocluster collaborative platform, William Edmonds from ESitpa, and Dr Patrick Dyer on shape memory textiles.

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University of Brighton Graduate Shows

Just some of the  work on show design students at the University of Brighton Graduate Shows in June (Clare Evans, Julia Barklem, Chris Cooper, Rosie Nolan, Edmund Pimm, Elisabeth Wester, and Lawrence Lawson).  For those students with an interest in eco design , and as a complement to their main course of study, the Brighton BRIDGE Research Team have been able to offer a number of opportunities over the past two years.  Alongside a cross-disciplinary discussion  forum open to students and staff at all levels, the funding has enabled us to facilitate steam bending, spinning and design methodology workshops, field trips and student exchanges with Agro-materials and Eco-construction institutions in France (ESitpa in Rouen and ESitCaen). This has given students and staff access to materials including waste products of the textile and timber industries as well as an ample source of ash supplied to us by Woodland Enterprise Centre

Students have remarked on the benefits of the BRIDGE Club forum for sharing views on the issue of sustainability :” would get different perspectives, and you would all be looking at the same materials and objects but everyone would bring their own angle of perception towards it. Which is really helpful from a creative point of view if you are all talking about the same thing and seeing things differently..” (Lawrence Lawson)

Photographs by davidashpeak-photography

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Materials Research Exchange

The University of Brighton BRIDGE research team exhibited at the Materials Research Exchange, hosted by Materials Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) on Tuesday 25th February at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It had been more than 12 years since the last Materials Research Exchange was held and it was a privilege to be one of the exhibitors at the event. Over 500 delegates attended the event. It was a great opportunity for us to present our work from an art and design perspective, which was a new and novel approach to exhibiting at a conference. In an environment dominated by science and technology, our stand made a real impact. We attracted a lot of attention and received positive feedback on the work demonstrating innovative use of materials, as well as the aesthetics and design. The display included: Lookerers Cloak (Maria Eva Russo), Frugal Table (Will Green)  Flax Cycle Helmet (James Dart) as well as work on recycled glass from the UoB department of Pharmaceutical and Biomolecular Sciences and polymers derived from recycled textiles developed by

Seminars at the event addressed issues of materials sustainability and materials discovery and one led by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) on Horizon 2020 opportunities. Keynote speakers included Jeremy Clayton (Director, Research Base, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Marcin Sadowski (Advanced Materials and Nanotechnologies Unit, European Commission) and Mark Robertshaw (CEO of Morgan Advanced Materials).

Students from ESITCaen submitted their research poster: ‘Valorisation of Shell By-Products in Pervious Eco-Paving’ for the research poster competition.

Valorisation of Shell By-prodcuts in Pervious Eco-Paving

Valorisation of Shell By-prodcuts in Pervious Eco-Paving

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Green Business Start up at the Eco Station


Dr Farrer and Marney Walker from Centre for Research and Development at UoB attended the Green Business Start Up at the Eco Station in Bordon Hampshire,  hosted by Peter Grant of WSX Enterprise one of our partners in the BRIDGE project. Representatives from ESitpa , Miriade, and Orne Developpement, and Medway Council also attended.  The day included a number of thought provoking interactive sessions and presentations by experts on the challenges and opportunities facing green business start ups. Peter Richardson of Ecoskill who runs e-learning courses for green business, led a thought provoking session on the core elements of sustainable practice: ‘People Planet Profit’. Other participants included Richard Hall of Future Solent, Jason Bentley of Recycled Assets Company, John Gosling of ecodesign magazine Wedigtheearth and Lynn Ward a sustainable product specialist. The benefits of ‘going the green route’ for businesses was discussed even though we still dont have the vocabulary to define these terms. As Dr Farrer pointed out, in terms of lifecyle as much as two thirds of a product can have a negative environmental impact: we need to use designers as early as possible in product development to design out waste.

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The True Value of Materials : feedback

The True Value of Materials Exhibition was well attended, and generated considerable interest and enthusiasm. Obviously tracking and measuring the real impact of this even, and the activity generated from the connections made, will be a matter of time but the immediate positive feedback was overwhelming:

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Green Entrepreneurs at Brighton BRIDGE Circus

Jake Leith (President of Chartered Society of Designers) hosted a discussion session with young green entrepeneurs including : Izze Roffe Sylvester (MA Sustainable Design), Jen Dalby (textile designer and spinner), Zoe John (Engage by Design), David Barbou (EsitCaen), Richard Simmonite (UoB graduate and designer Bagreborn), Elea Nouraud and James Dart (MA Product Design students at ECAL, Lausanne) and Chris Cooper (UoB MDes 3D Design student). The discussion revealed the challenges involved in making a transition from development of innovative ideas in a university context to turning these ideas into a viable business. Participants were asked to consider: How they transfer from ‘design led‘ to ‘demand driven‘ concepts? . Many of them still need to continue to have a ‘day job’ whilst pursuing their personal projects. The value of support networks including Goodfornothing and the Brighton Repair Cafe were considered helpful, whilst recognising that these can also be seen as exclusive cliques. External factors including government policies such as green tax subsidies can help.

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The True Value of Materials Exhibition

The opening of The True Value Materials exhibition on the first day of the Brighton BRIDGE Circus event (9th December 2013) attracted a huge crowd. Karen Norquay (Head of the School of Art, Design and Media) gave a welcoming address and thanked the organisers led by Dr Joan Farrer. Robert Penn, a journalist and author who is currently writing Touch Wood: the story of the ash tree gave a presentation and musical entertainers and performers accompanied the event. The exhibition  co-ordinated by Jonathan Swain and the Brighton BRIDGE Research Team at the UoB, located in the Grand Parade gallery, showcases  work in progress as well as a range of selected work by designers, practitioners, and Research Institutes in France and the UK, of relevance to the BRIDGE project including agro-materials, textiles, timber, locallly sourced materials, and traditional crafts exploring sustainable practice. The opening event, alongside the symposium was a perfect opportunity for to connect like minded contributors and attendees. The glass fronted gallery provides an excellent framed views of the display from street level.


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Brighton Repair Cafe at Brighton BRIDGE Circus

Brighton Repair Cafe were invited to occupy the UoB Grand Parade site, during the Brighton BRIDGE Circus event in December. Students, staff and attendees from the symposium engaged in a range of make do and mend activities against the backdrop of the map of the Interreg France (Channel) England area by Billie Mather commissioned specially for the event.

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The true value of materials: Why Ash?

We have selected a number of pieces for the exhibtion that showcase the benefits of ash as a locally sourced sustainable material. Why use ash? In terms of sustainability there are number of reasons why ash is a good choice. As David Saunders Manager of Woodnet explained to us at the Summer Workshop, as a material ash:” is light, elastic, flexible and incredibly strong. A hardwood that is fast growing.The quicker a tree grows the stronger it is”. 

It has a distinctive open crowned light foliage, it is late come into leaf, early to drop, a short growing season, that lets light through onto the forest floor, which has benefits in terms of biodiversity”  These benefits are  summarised by the Royal Forestry Society:  “Ash woodland has a rich ground flora of dogs mercury, bluebells and ramsons. Often it is accompanied by a hazel understorey. The alkaline bark of ash supports numerous epiphytic lichens and bryophytes and also attracts snails. Its leaves provide food for many moth species including the barred-toothed striped, the coronet, the brick, the centre-barred sallow and the privet hawkmoth. Birds such as the bullfinch eat ash seeds.Upland mixed ash woodlands are a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and form one of the richest habitats for wildlife in the uplands. They support many rare woodland flowers such as dark red helleborine, Jacob’s ladder, autumn crocus, lady’s slipper orchid and threatened butterflies such a the high brown fritillary, the dingy skipper and the grayling.”

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