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Leading artist creates beautiful SA1 reception desk using recycled bottled glass

An exciting collaboration between a leading artist, staff and students across two faculties at UWTSD has culminated in an innovative project to produce a reception desk for the new IQ building in SA1 Swansea Waterfront made from recycled glass.

The brain-child of Dr Tyra Oseng-Rees, Founder and director of Oseng-Rees Reflection, the project involved 3,000 glass bottles being collected from a restaurant in Llanelli, processed, designed and manufactured into bespoke panels.

My ambition was to make beautiful architectural panels from recycled glass and to show that up-cycled glass bottles can be made into an artisan product that meets the needs of the architectural industry. With this collaboration I wanted to prove that innovation happens through a change of mind-set and the project was designed around the five-ways-of-working of the Wellbeing of Future Generation Act. Only by breaking out of a rigid way of thinking, new ways of working towards a sustainable world can come through.

Dr Oseng-Rees Founder and Director, Oseng-Rees Reflection

A wide range of research staff including Ian Standen who has set up the new Architecture programme at the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, Lara Hopkinson from environmental conservation, Allan Nantel from construction and Dr Juan Ferriz-Papi from construction management were involved in the project. The enhanced student learning aspect was overseen by Dr Gregory Owen and Lisa Burkl oversaw the contemporary processes in glass arts. The project was based on a highly innovative field of research which investigated the feasibility of low temperature fused recycled glass as an architectural material. It is an area of study that has been developed by Dr Tyra Oseng-Rees, working with recycled glass in design and construction.

Dr Oseng-Rees added: “This project is an example of upcycling a waste material (in this case bottle glass) into a high value architectural design application with a strong artistic merit. Both staff and students have been very excited to be involved in this interdisciplinary project linking creative talent to its strong environment, sustainable and recycling credentials.”

The project brief was set by Kier Construction and the University SA1 Project Team at the SA1 Swansea Waterfront development. As well as the input of research and teaching staff from the university, the project was divided into smaller sub-projects and run as separate undergraduate student projects from the different Schools and Faculties. Students studying Architecture, Glass (Architectural Arts), Project and Construction Management, Environmental Conservation and Engineering combined their talents to complete the project.

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“UWTSD, Kier Construction and Stride Treglown were all very supportive and enthusiastic about the project, appreciating how the use of recycled architectural glass can enhance the wellbeing of people who visit the new buildings and how the university’s reputation on environmental and sustainability issues can go hand-in-hand, with the creative industries and mutually reinforce each other,” said Dr Oseng-Rees.

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Mike Bessell, Senior Estates Manager at SA1 Swansea Waterfront said: “Tyra came to us with the idea of trialling a new recycled glass material and we thought this was too an exciting opportunity to miss. It presented an opportunity for our students and academics to work together and it is a sustainable product that reuses a material that’s been in the local area.”

Ian Standen said: “I came to UWTSD to set up the architecture course, so I was aware of the requirements for a reception desk at the very start. However, the opportunity to try something new and collaborate with other colleagues in the University, and to work with Tyra and the potential of using recycled glass, was too enticing.”

Jana Klerprlikova, Graduate project, Glass Contemporary Processes, Swansea College of Art said: “I got involved when I was a student at UWTSD. I was in my third year and Tyra came in and introduced her work with recycled glass material. I liked the idea of the sustainability of this material and potentially working on the live project.”

Dave Halley, Graduate Project, Construction Managements said: “I decided to run with Tyra’s option with fused recycled glass. I am excited about innovation and new ideas in the construction industry and after further research into and discussions with Tyra, I could see benefits of having and using this material and I think it’s something that should be considered and considered further as a building product”

Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability at UWTSD said:

“What I love about this project is that Tyra picked this up and absolutely ran with it. Tyra’s and her team’s design systems thinking meant that they wanted engineers, environmental conservationists, artists and others to work on a project that actually covers 4 schools of the University and two faculties.”

Pierre Wassenaar Director, Head of Technology and Innovation, Stride Treglown Architects said: “We found the process of working with Tyra to be a collaboration in the true sense of the word. She and her team became an integrated part of the design team and brought an inspiring, fresh approach to the work.”

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