When we hear the words biological house, our mind thinks it would be a wobbly structure because how can tomato stems and seaweed make a sturdy home capable of being lived in. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight but the biological house has finally been created and it is as sturdy as a conventional wooden house.
A multidisciplinary team involving more than 40 partners was formed. This team included the likes of Copenhagen-based design firm Een til Een, the sustainable architecture firm GXN, wood-treatment company Kebony, and the Danish Ministry of Environment.
The project began when GXN teamed up with partners from the Danish farming sector to gather biomaterials that would have been burned for energy otherwise. These materials included grass, straw, tomato stems, and seaweed. These materials were then combined with composites in order to maximize their strength and pressed into boards for cladding.
This is where Kebony stepped and these softwoods were treated by applying heat and a bio-based liquid. What this does is polymerize the cell walls within the wooden material, giving it properties similar to tropical hardwood. The performance of these boards was tested by the Danish Technological Institute and their strength was found to be rivaling that of a regular home.
“It sounds like science fiction that you can build a house from things such as tomato stems, straw, and seaweed, which is just as durable as normal buildings and at the time has a healthy economy and complies with the rules,” says Danish Environmental Minister Kirsten Brosbøl. “However, the Biological House shows that it is possible here and now. I appreciate that way we really get some value from materials that otherwise would end up at an incineration plant.”
Using these construction materials saves the environment from the carbon emissions that would have resulted in the case of burning them. The foundation of the biological house is not made from concrete and it sits on a ground anchoring system known as screw piles. Another interesting factor about the house is that it is tailormade for the customer’s requirements and can be put up quickly and disassembled later on without leaving a trace.
The biological house is the first construction completed at Biotope in the Danish town of Middlefart, an exhibition park for sustainable construction and was opened for public earlier this week.
“It’s been a long project, and we have all certainly learnt a great deal over the course of planning and construction,” said Kim Christofte CEO of Een til Een. “It has been a pleasure to watch the team find so many clever solutions to the problems encountered along the way and we are delighted to finally open the doors to share this unique house with the public.”
If this trend catches on, it will cut down carbon emissions by a huge amount. It might not be long before we see a string of similar houses springing up in different parts of the world.