Water as a building material has rarely been pursued by researchers and experimenters. It has great thermal conductivity and temperature balancing properties, but the fact that it is liquid, it possibly couldn’t be used in construction in between all the layers of concrete, iron and glass. But, a Hungarian architect Matyas Gutai has his eyes firmly set on using water as a construction material in the future. He has even made a prototype building with water embedded in between.
The whole idea behind the water-as-a-construction-material is to use it in between different layers of construction to take advantage of its properties. Cement, sand and other materials are used just like always but, sheets/layers of glass and steel are ideal candidates where in between water could be filled. It stabilizes the thermal condition of the walls of the house. This is very important as in extreme cold/heat, walls are the prime reason behind temperature escalation/drop.
Gutai has made the first prototype in Kecskemet, South of Budapest the capital of Hungary. He is the pioneer in this field and received a grant from EU to complete this project. The ability of water to maintain temperature in a single source is used to control the temperature of the whole house. The heated water can also be stored in an external source.
Gutai believes his panels are self-sustainable and they can do the same job as heating. Large buildings with huge glass network can be incorporated with water and the result will be good energy balance throughout the building. His idea was inspired from hot air baths in Japan.
Architectural innovation is the key to further work on the clean, green, zero energy homes. According to Gutai, the current architecture can only go so far in providing this, so time has come to experiment with newer, unorthodox materials as well.
The project has been going on for about 8 years as the technology has had to overcome some genuine issues with the panels. First of all was the fact that water could freeze, expand and shatter the glass in sub-zero temperatures. This was rectified by adding certain solute that lowered the freezing point to acceptable levels. He is also close to finding the solution to leaking and subsequent flooding of the building complex.
A water house is one of the ways to use abundant elements for energy-efficient homes. Although the cost is quite high at the moment, Gutai and party aims to make it more feasible for commercialization.