Re3 glass blocks from waste glass can be dry-stacked

The project Re3 Glass by Telesilla Bristogianni and Faidra Oikonomopoulou of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands introduces a reversible building system comprising of dry-assembled interlocking building blocks made out of waste glass.

Only in the last decades, the structural potential of glass is starting to become clear. Glass combines transparency with high compressive strength, making beams and other load-bearing structures possible, like this bridge with glass columns.

Bristogianni and Oikonomopoulou developed solid 3-dimensional glass components. By pouring molten glass into moulds, nearly any shape and cross-section can be achieved. The Re3 project took inspiration from the Crystal House façade in Amsterdam, designed by MVRDV and developed by the TU Delft’s Glass & Transparency Group. These blocks are the current state-of-the-art in the field of architectural cast glass. The blocks are bonded by rigid, colourless adhesive of virtually zero thickness. Because of this, the construction is permanent and made with intensive and meticulous labour.

Re3 stands for REcycle, REduce and REuse. The aim of the project was to find a solution for discarded glass, as well as offer an alternative to flat glass surfaces that are nearly exclusively used in architecture.

The Recycle part of the project comes from the recycling of waste glass. Despite the common notion that glass is 100 per cent recyclable, the majority of discarded glass objects end up on the landfill, either because of mismatching recipes or contamination. Due to their increased cross-section, cast glass units can tolerate a higher degree of impurities without compromising their mechanical or aesthetical properties. For the project, Bristogianni and Oikonomopoulou experimented with everything from beer bottles and Pyrex trays to mobile phone and computer screens.

Reduce comes from the smart geometry used. This is implemented in the form of cavities and notches, to achieve both lightweight and strong components, reducing the required raw material and overall necessary energy.

Finally, the project aims to reuse. The Re3 blocks have interlocking parts, which makes it possible to dry-stack them. This way, the system can attain the desired stiffness and stability without the need for adhesives and with minimal metal framing. Dry-stacking also makes it possible to dismantle the construction, making circular use possible.

Bristogianni and Oikonomopoulou developed different component geometries. The structural performance of the interlocking components is validated by both numerical models and physical testing of the kilncast prototypes.

Re3 Glass was nominated for the New Material Award 2018.

Photos: Faidra Oikonomopoulou