Lost Ground

In Southeastern France, which is rich in quarries, clay soils, and ceramic industries, the Lost Ground project works with production scraps, extraction residues, and unused clays. The designers and their partners develop materials for use in responsible projects.

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Recycling undervalued clays and minerals, and developing responsible production techniques for fired clay and raw earth.

Using unconventional resources, Lost Ground develops processes for fired clays and raw earth. Through research into materials, the project explores the socio-economic and environmental issues facing the ceramics and construction material industries.

The team identified numerous deposits of neglected resources, including waste from silica sand quarries, soil polluted by metallurgical industries, and scraps from floor tile, roof tile, brick, and ceramics factories in the region.

Using processes that require few resources and little energy, and that have minimal environmental impact, Lost Ground reintegrates these clays and minerals into production of structural and finishing materials.

The designers, architects, craftspeople, and engineers experiment with construction techniques that use raw earth and traditional masonry know-how, as well as new technologies such as 3D printing. In parallel with this research, the project encourages the spread of knowledge among the different partners by organizing participatory workshops, training programs, and collaborations with work integration programs.

This research has led to formulas for construction materials such as rammed earth (pisé, similar to adobe), plasters, agglomerated stone, and terrazzo. Certain materials have been approved for use in architectural applications, and are used in the building developed for Atelier LUMA as part of the Building for Uncertainties project.

The Lost Ground project also develops clays that can be fired and used for ceramics. As part of this research, designers are exploring firing techniques that can immobilize contaminants found in polluted soil within inert materials such as ceramics and glazes.

More than 60 formulas for composites that use recycled clay, gravel, plants, fibers, algae, and ochres have been developed in collaboration with the Sunflower Power, Algae Platform, and Color Geographies projects. These hybrid materials allow for varying plasticity, density, aesthetic qualities, and structural properties in the fired clay. The most promising composites are used in experimental production of dishes and architectural components.

As part of its research into fired clay, the Lost Ground team also develops glazes that incorporate agri-food industry coproducts, such as rice straw, olive pits, and minerals and metal oxides available in the region.

Project team

  • Atelier LUMA

    Arles, France

  • BC Materials

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Assemble

    Londres, UK

  • PRSE

    Saint Vallier, France

  • Fulchiron

    Vallabrix, France

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