Yi Design, a Chinese materials company established by curator and artist Caroline Cheng and designer Karl Yin, has introduced an innovative solution to address the issue of ceramic waste by creating water-permeable bricks named Permeable YiBrick.

These bricks are composed of 90% recycled ceramic waste sourced from industrial porcelain manufacturers in Jingdezhen, known as the ceramics capital of China — Yi Design aims to tackle the substantial amount of waste generated by the country’s ceramics industry.

China generates approximately 18 million tonnes of ceramic waste annually, a significant portion of which is illegally disposed of by dumping or burial. The Permeable YiBrick presents an eco-friendly alternative by repurposing this waste into functional bricks with water-permeable properties.

This not only addresses the environmental impact of ceramic waste but also provides a practical application for flood prevention in urban areas.

China produces millions of tons of ceramic waste every year. Photo courtesy of Yi Design (taken from the video)

Yi Design’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its use of recycled materials, contributing to a circular economy. The Permeable YiBrick has already found application in various projects, including the creation of a tiled wall for the COS fashion brand store in Shanghai’s Century Plaza shopping mall.

The innovative brick has garnered attention and recognition, being shortlisted in the sustainable building product category of the 2023 Dezeen Awards. It competes alongside other environmentally conscious solutions, such as a hexagonal paver system by Norwegian firm Snøhetta and Erosion Mitigation Units crafted from recycled oyster shells.

This initiative by Yi Design aligns with a growing trend in exploring alternative materials for construction, as seen in various examples worldwide. From construction waste to expanded cork and even human urine, these alternatives offer sustainable options to conventional brick production.

The Permeable YiBrick stands as a noteworthy example of turning waste into a functional and environmentally friendly building material.

YiBrick Permeable Photo from Yi Design’s product page

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