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Bending the rules

A team of architecture and engineering students at the University of East London (UEL) has created a unique new structure out of a rather unusual building material. The 3m high slender saddlebacked arch recently unveiled on the waterfront of UEL's Docklands campus is made from individually shaped curved concrete tiles created from sewage sludge.

The project involved eight students on the university's BSc (Hons) Architecture course and four MA Structural Engineering students. The concrete was produced by engineers at the Manufactured Aggregates Research Centre (MARC), an innovative pilot plant based at UEL's School of Computing and Technology in Barking, which processes waste materials into lightweight aggregates for the building industry.

The team decided on a 'double curvature' form inspired by the work of Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste, and worked closely with Remo Pedreschi, head of research at Edinburgh School of Architecture. The engineering students analysed the optimum curvature, and determined the best mix of materials and size for the individual blocks.

On 11 July, the team removed the wooden supporting structure and uncovered the finished arch. It now stands between University Way and the waterfront, in full view of the Docklands Light Railway, backed by trees and student residences.

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