ECA Students Working with Scottish Canals

A group of four Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) students on the new Material Practice – MSc program are working with Scottish Canals to repurpose material removed from canals during dredging.

There are over 220 km of canals in Scotland. Although they are no longer avenues for trade and commerce, they are listed as industrial heritage sites, and have become important to the tourism and leisure industries.

The canals are managed by Scottish Canals, who are responsible for keeping the waterways navigable. Periodically they are dredged to remove unwanted material.

Avoiding landfill has become a key step in reducing the environmental impact of dredging. In a project entitled The Circular Economy, the students are looking at ways to reduce landfill by up-cycling the dredged material and giving them a new purpose.

Charlie Paterson, Scott Brown, Sophie Budsworth and Dan Brown recently visited the Union Canal at Linlithgow to obtain samples of the material during dredging operations. They then travelled back to their research workshops and have begun investigating the ways they could repurpose this spare material. Initial ideas have included rammed earth construction, fired clay components, or as a partial replacement for cement in low impact concrete.

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