Design team develops bio-glass cladding tiles made from mussel shells | New


Currency exchange and Thames Glass facade tiling by Lulu Harrison. Image: Lulu Harrison

London-based architecture firm Bureau de Change and Central Saint Martins Material Futures postgraduate student Lulu Harrison have collaborated to create a series of glass cladding tiles using mold shells. Their work explores alternatives to processed and unsustainable materials used in traditional glass production which also prioritizes the use of locally sourced materials.

The bio-glass, named Thames Glass, is made from a mixture of crushed quagga mussel shells, sand and wood ash. These invasive mussel species often clog the transfer tunnels used by the water and sewerage utility company Thames Water. Rather than being removed and sent to a landfill, Harrison has developed an eco-friendly solution by using the shells as a raw material to produce this unique type of glass.

The biomaterial is completely handmade, which makes each wall tile unique in appearance with its own texture and color. Together, Bureau de Change and Harrison formed a series of cast glass facade tiles, with designs referencing London’s architectural history, namely 19th century terracotta chimney pots and water pipes .

Thames Glass was displayed in a showcase titled Beauty: how the fusion of beauty and function can change the world as part of London Craft Week earlier this month. The exhibition was organized by Here Design to demonstrate how innovation in the biosphere can foster a sustainable future.

Abdul J. Gaspar