Making bricks from waste

In 2010, Tom van Suest was studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands – one of the world’s leading design schools – when he developed an interest in construction and demolition waste. Two years later, he came up with a new material recycled from demolition waste for his graduation project, and it caught the attention of longtime friend and entrepreneur Ward Massa. In 2013, the duo co-founded Amsterdam-based StoneCycling, with the goal of making new building materials from demolition and construction waste.

“We dig up tons of raw materials every year to turn them into the building products that make up our cities and infrastructure. The need for alternative resources and production methods is more urgent than ever. That is why Tom started grinding, crushing and mixing waste in his industrial mixer at home. manufacture, resulting in a unique waste-based building material that was both flexible and attractive,” Massa told City & Country in an email interview.

They expanded Van Soest’s research and design processes, and later, developed StoneCycling’s first series of products, named WasteBasedBricks in 2015. Reportedly a sustainable product made from 60% of waste metal, WasteBasedBricks saves 25% more energy in production than regular bricks. It was originally made from 100% debris, but the amount of waste was reduced to compete in the market and produce a brick with a more traditional look.


The glass boxes of The West apartments’ units pop in and out, creating a contemporary cloud-like building that offers stunning views of the surroundings (Photo by Concrete)

According to Massa, WasteBasedBricks has similar properties to regular bricks but is stronger and requires less water. To meet the design needs of every architectural project, WasteBasedBricks are produced in a variety of sizes, shapes, textures and colors.

He says, “Currently we work with very specific and well-separated amounts of waste. This is a mix of construction, demolition and industrial waste. We also work with waste collection and recycling companies. For example, when an office building or a nursery is demolished, a lot of the White ceramics — like toilet bowls, sinks, and bathroom tiles — usually go to waste.

We will process these ceramics by cleaning the material and grinding it into fine rubble. If you look at the strips of textured bricks, you will see a lot of white spots. These are the ceramics from one of the “donor” buildings.

The process of obtaining demolition waste from a particular development and reintroducing those materials into a new project on the same site is labor intensive and requires complex logistical organization. This is why StoneCycling is keen on choosing the waste streams it works with, as well as contracts with suppliers, to ensure the quality of their products.

In this regard, we will conduct pilot tests to find out the whole process of returning waste from a donor building to the same project. Depending on what we encounter in the process and the outcome of the end product, we will see if and how we can move forward in the future,” says Massa.


Apartments at De Vijzel enjoy natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows. Each has a frontage that can be opened to a full height and width via large patio doors. (Photo by OZ Architects)

Environmentally friendly building materials

Massa explains: “We differentiate ourselves by focusing primarily on using waste as a resource rather than exploring for natural and limited resources for our production.

“Making products takes time, and we often provide custom work for large projects. We will work with architects and other professionals because the minimum order quantity for bricks and stone slips within Europe is 200 square metres.”

StoneCycling is Conformitè Europëenne (CE) certified and meets European Union standards for health, safety and environmental protection. The company is constantly moving towards its mission of producing beautiful building materials made from 100% recycled waste that has a positive carbon impact on the planet.

“Although we have a long way to go, we are committed to moving forward. We always aim to expand our range of WasteBasedBricks series by experimenting with new cutting edge technologies, making different types of building materials for a variety of applications, and developing dry stack systems that can be finally disassembled Its life span,” says Massa.

Most importantly, the building materials supplier often engages with architects, designers and project developers in the value chain around the world about waste recycling possibilities. “We feel a great responsibility and see the opportunity to change the approach to sustainable building, even in the traditional construction sector,” he says.

According to Massa, the process from the creation of the idea to the realization of the project is complex, involving different companies, each with different goals and ambitions. “In everything we do, recycling, design and craftsmanship play an important role. In addition to functionality, we are committed to proving that waste can be a resource that opens up a new range of aesthetic and stunning shapes, shapes and colors. We also constantly invest time and effort in developing new formulations, enabling It results in building materials that are safe to use and of the highest quality.”

StoneCycling produces unique and beautiful materials that allow architects to realize their design.

“When it comes to designing larger projects, we will work closely with our design teams to think of the appropriate colour, texture, size and shape for the products. Together with our production partner in the factory, we will set up the process in such a way that we can be flexible in changing the waste materials we use.” This gives us room for experimentation, which is essential for the kind of projects we like to work on,” says Massa.

However, he points out that because the brick-making process is labour-intensive, it will not be fully automated by machines or robots. It also requires skill from experts in this field.

Having said that, we will be experimenting with new release technologies to reduce our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Currently, forest offset gas has been used to reduce energy consumption, but we are working hard to get to a point where we are not emitting any CO2 during the production phase.”


Completed in 2021, De Vijzel consists of 21 exclusive freehold apartments, ranging from maisonettes to penthouses (Photo by OZ Architects)

Facade made of recycled bricks

One of StoneCycling’s notable projects is The West in Manhattan, New York City, designed by the Amsterdam-based concrete architecture firm. The residential complex consists of 219 apartments offering studios and 1-bedroom to 3-bedroom units.

Completed in 2021, The West is located on 11th Avenue and features spacious common spaces and outdoor areas. The base of the building offers a loft-type experience, with a sturdy brick facade made of StoneCycling’s “shinny truffle” stone. This type of brick has a dark gray color that reflects daylight and direct sunlight, creating a vibrant finish.

Massa says that at least 42 different shapes and sizes of these bricks have been made to cover every corner and curve of the entire facade with its glossy gray look. The building’s brick facade consists of approximately 580,000 pounds of demolition and industrial waste.

The facade of the first seven floors echoes the lofts dotted in the area, while the upper floors feature balconies of varying sizes, an all-glass facade, and a rooftop terrace. The eighth floor is a lounge in shape and hosts a large outdoor terrace with a lounge and a dog run.

Units at The West are inspired by a classic New York City loft, which features natural oak floors, high ceilings, and oversized windows offering expansive views. Additional facilities available in the project include a fitness center, yoga studio, children’s playroom, dog grooming station and rooftop pool.

The five-story Cloud Residences are located above the base of The West. “These top-floor apartments make the most of the views of Manhattan and the Hudson River,” Massa says. “Glass boxes [of the apartment units] In and out, creating a contemporary cloud-like building that offers stunning views of the ocean. ”

Cloud Residences are designed to maximize light, space and attractive waterfront views. Each residence comes with natural oak floors and sliding glass walls that allow maximum flexibility for personal home design. For the Cloud Residences’ master bedrooms, the spaces are finished with lustrous Calacatta marble countertops and nickel fixtures, with white ceramic tiles hanging over the terrazzo floors,” Massa says.


The building’s western brick facade consists of approximately 580,000 pounds of demolition and industrial waste (Photo by OZ Architects)

The magic of industry in Austinburg

Another StoneCycling project is De Vijzel in Oostenburg, Amsterdam. Designed by Amsterdam-based OZ Architects, the five-storey De Vijzel has a modern industrial look. Completed in 2021, De Vijzel’s building consists of 21 exclusive freehold apartments, ranging from maisonettes to penthouses. With panoramic views of Wittenburgervaart and downtown Amsterdam, the building has a steel facade and is built of circular concrete, lending the industrial atmosphere of South Houston’s NYC district with its abundance of light-colored glass and bricks.

In line with Amsterdam’s mission to become the world’s first 100% circular city by 2050, OZ Architects intends to add sustainable value to Oostenburg with the De Vijzel Building. Reuse of materials is an important condition of the mission to make Oostenburg sustainable.

“This is where StoneCycling’s raw nougat stone, soft yellow with a hint of warm pink, was used to clad De Vijzel’s facade. Made from construction and demolition waste, a total of 28,952 kg of waste was recycled for a building De Vijzel,” Massa says.

It indicates that the stones are processed on a cleat, which saves the amount of facade material and produces a non-standard appearance of the facade. The building is also energy neutral, with solar panels installed on the roof.

The apartments enjoy natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows and each has a frontage that can be opened to full height and width via large patio doors. All units at De Vijzel are directly connected to a lush courtyard and exclusive turnkey apartments are delivered to residents to move into directly.”

%d bloggers like this: