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Sunflower Material Works

Part 2 Project 2022
Daniel Ian Hellyer
University of Reading | UK
Gas Holder 4 has been a key visual marker in the Reading skyline since it was constructed in 1905. Now disused, the Sunflower Material Works project was conceived upon the idea of regenerating the area, aiming to connect environmental sustainability with economic, social, and cultural resilience.

The project manifests itself over 4 phases, each contributing to the wider ecology of the site whilst mitigating waste and adopting circular economy principles. To overcome site contamination issues, phytoremediation was proposed, where specific species of plants are grown to breakdown toxins. One plant in particular, sunflowers, provided an intrigue into re-imagining materials made from biowaste. Consequently, the proposal revolves around a sunflower material making facility, located within the gas holder, that produces, tests, and distributes construction materials made from the by- products of sunflower cultivation, therefore reducing the need to deplete the natural world through the excess consumption of new raw materials.

Grounded in theories of the circular economy, the project specifies the use of salvaged materials, considering the existing built environment as a mine of resources. Innovative solutions and design for deconstruction principles are proposed to incorporate adaptability into new spatial environments created through reclaimed brickwork, linking the project to Reading’s industrial heritage.

Daniel Ian Hellyer


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