QBRICK is researching and implementing strategies to make construction waste accessible to communities, further empowering citizens to innovatively up-cycle, re-purpose, re-build, and transform urban and human development.


Date begun

Initiated by
De Mobiele Fabriek, XCOOP

Supported by
De Mobiele Fabriek, XCOOP, CPW, CITIES, Stimuleringsfond Creatieve Industrie, Dutch Consulate in Hong Kong, PIB

Waste is everywhere. We can’t escape it, nor help but create it. Beyond our individual actions are waste-makers of unthinkable scale. Take construction, for example. Cities worldwide are experiencing rapid urban development, with no sign of slowing down. As they say, haste makes waste. Look at Hong Kong, where millions of tons of debris and rubble are reaching unmanageable levels as the city continues to build. Not to mention the drain on natural and capital resources and the crippling effects inflicted upon people and the environment. As pressure builds, the time is ripe to turn these raw materials into up-cycled building blocks revitalizing communities through both human and structural development.

Addressing these urgent demands, De Mobiele Fabriek (DMF) ( launched the idea in collaboration with XCOOP ( QBRICK will breathe new life into local communities in Hong Kong through debris. The possibilities for use, re-use and replacement of other materials are many, as debris is 98% recyclable and forms semi-processed, high quality, super-strong products – such as small bricks. By employing today’s knowledge and technology, industrial construction debris removal and collection strategies will be developed with local populations to transform the debris into their permanent communities through a compelling, innovative urban co-creation process.

Centered on human development, QBRICK believes the plan will not only provide positive relief on the ecosystem, improve urban reconstruction, provide affordable structures, improve living conditions, utilize a unique construction system, create new jobs for unemployed and unskilled workers and collaborate with market forces, but moreover improve community social binding and identity by directly engaging citizens as leading activists collectively co-transforming their natural, social and built environment for the better. Unlike build, waste and be done industrial approaches, QBRICK will develop steadily, being implemented in well-planned sets of initiatives over time to ensure community participation and sustainable practice.


CITIES is already engaged in two research initiatives aligning with QBRICK.

First, our We Own The City project ( has re-defined its ambition, as major global cities continue implementing historically engraved, industrial-based urban development practices stemming from ‘the top.’ However, active citizens operating from ‘the bottom’ are becoming more and more prominent in cities worldwide. Moreover, many top-down players recognize this shift in the urban development landscape and would like to explore new collaborative strategies. In order to effectively engage dynamic bottom-up initiatives, they need a new toolkit.

In response, CITIES took a unique approach with the We Own The City project (more here to provide a collection of insights offering ‘top-downers’ collaborative new tools for their kit, so to speak. Through research on bottom-up case studies in Hong Kong, Moscow, Taipei, New York and Amsterdam (updates here (, the upcoming We Own The City publication (more here ( will present these results.

Second, our WASTED ( project stems from the debilitating effects of waste and waste management around the world. Focusing on the immense value that could be generated through new perspectives on recycling and up-cycling, this research will develop practical strategies to develop partnerships between communities and waste management that can be applied to newfound local innovation contributing to urban and social development.

We’re experiencing an exciting opportunity in the history of cities to enact powerful, systemic changes. While We Own The City gathers influential data and insight into transforming the relationships between institutional and citizen actors, WASTED is developing strategies to make partnerships between citizens and institutions in the name of revitalized, re-structured waste management and community development practices.

Now, QBRICK comes to life uniting We Own The City with WASTED through a tactical, applied approach. Updates and reports on QBRICK’s development will be shared on CITIES and our digital platforms. Pardon the cliché, and stay tuned for more.

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