The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Graduate Wins Parsons Role Models Contest

29 June 2022

Felix Sagar, who is graduating Architecture MArch this year, won the Grand Prize in the international competition, hosted by Parsons Healthy Materials Lab.

Image: ‘The Chalk Works: Chalk-based Remediation, Renovation and Regeneration’ by Felix Sagar, Architecture MArch, PG12, 2022

The Role Models Contest, launched by Parsons Healthy Materials Lab, is now in its seventh year. The Healthy Materials Lab, part of the Parsons School of Design, advocates to create healthier spaces by eliminating toxic elements from common building materials, improving knowledge of healthier materials and empowering poorer communities to create healthier built environments. 

The Role Models Contest invites undergraduate and graduate design students from around the world to submit projects that exemplify healthy material innovation and advocacy in design, with a $1000 prize awarded to the winner. Entrants are encouraged to consider the impact of climate change, advocate for social justice, and innovate with healthier materials. 
Felix, a fifth-year student, was awarded the Grand Prize for his fifth-year project ‘The Chalk Works: Chalk-based Remediation, Renovation and Regeneration’, which proposes using local materials diverted from the waste stream to rehabilitate dilapidated industrial buildings. 

The Chalk Works: Chalk-based Remediation, Renovation and Regeneration

Felix Sagar, Architecture MArch, PG12, 2022

This project, sited at the derelict Shoreham Cement Works and chalk quarry in the South Downs National Park, proposes a regenerative reuse, utilising Waste Chalk Filter Cake (WCFC) as the primary construction material. WCFC is spoil from chalk tunnelling, currently used for the regeneration of the chalk grasslands and the infilling of quarries. But what about the derelict buildings which inhabit these sites? Crucially, how might WCFC be used to establish a tailored renovation method for existing industrial buildings? How can industrial sites be revived using regenerative methods that respond to their historical development? How might an alternative construction curriculum emerge from this material process?
In response, this project proposes the use of WCFC to renovate, remediate and regenerate the selected site, transforming it into a Chalk Works, a chalk cob facility and construction school. A system of industrial symbiosis is established and physical prototyping is undertaken using Thames Tideway Tunnel WCFC. WCFC mixed with straw, a local and abundant bio-waste, can produce a non-toxic and entirely cyclic chalk cob at an industrial scale. Through a chalk-based logic, waste material can regenerate existing architecture, the wider landscape and construction education simultaneously. Architectural and landscape interventions then take on a hybrid, homogenous quality, and work to address the historic processes and conditions that exist on site whilst enabling new architectural, geological, and social processes to be inserted.
The project promotes healing over demolition, adaptation, resourcefulness, alternative construction lessons and a deeper relationship between architecture and landscape. These values will have increasing importance in the decades to come. Fundamentally, the project makes the case that ‘sustainability’ goes far beyond the building, and what is required is the establishment of mutually beneficial relationships between industry, construction, renovation, education, and landscape regeneration.

Among their comments, the judges said:

The aesthetics are incredibly compelling. This is absolutely beautiful.”
I think it’s critical that the material would typically be used in agriculture. It would just be discarded. This is an appropriation of an underutilised material that is then used in the space of building material. It’s an amazing project.”

Felix is graduating this year, and studied Architecture MArch (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in unit PG12. His design work was tutored by Elizabeth Dow and Jonathan Hill, while his thesis was tutored by Oliver Wilton

His project will be exhibited as part of The Bartlett Summer Show 2022, launching on Friday 01 July in our digital exhibition space and in situ at the school’s London campus - find out more about the Summer Show here.

More information

Image: ‘The Chalk Works: Chalk-based Remediation, Renovation and Regeneration’ by Felix Sagar, Architecture MArch, PG12, 2022