Super green
: An architect’s redesign of concrete façade panels using waste materials

  • Elizabeth Gilligan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


With urban environments on the rise, the importance of sustainable developments in cities are more crucial than ever. In this research the vertical space is being tested due to it being the most underutilized and available space within current city designs (Gehl, 2010). It is also the orientation that proposes the most difficult challenges; if we can conquer the vertical the horizontal will work.

This research developed a critique, methodology and experimental process that examined what an architect brings to the material development process. This line of questioning is framed within the context of developing a concrete façade panel from industrial waste that is bioreceptive, meaning it can sustain plant growth on its surface.

The research is a multi-disciplinary PhD that takes a whole view of the material development process from inception of idea to fully formed material and examines what an architect brings at each stage whilst simultaneously developing a non-structural bio-receptive concrete. The drivers for this research are both disciplinary and technical.

The main findings from this research show that waste materials can be used to enhance bio-receptive qualities in concrete, reducing both the carbon emissions and increasing the rate of carbonation on the surface of the concrete.

It was found that an architect’s skills can be used to enhance the material development process and this area of research would benefit the education of architects.

This multi-disciplinary research allows for a material to be developed at pace and with more. viewpoints, creating a more robust process.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorRory Doherty (Supervisor), Sree Nanukuttan (Supervisor) & Ruth Morrow (Supervisor)

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