Monthly Column By Jim Biddulph
When it comes to building, we’re increasingly aware that we should be doing it better; that the new environments we create should be better for us, and the planet. But how might we actually go about this?
There’s a lot of discussion and more and more awareness of “greener” practices but for many specifiers, they are still a bit of a minefield – not least when you take into account that for some manufacturers and suppliers, they offer an opportunity to green-wash otherwise unsavoury practices.
One on-going project that recently went on show during Dutch Design Week looks to tackle this head on, with solutions that include 100 fully sustainable building materials. The Exploded View Beyond Building came with a simple but direct tagline: “Experience your circular living environment of the future,” and delivered solutions within a full-scale installation of a house. It’s organisers, Biobased Creations, are at the forefront of circular construction and took this post-lockdown opportunity to create the space as a follow on from the Growing Pavilion back in 2019.
What’s refreshing about this incarnation is that, whilst the last outing showcased some stunning and cutting edge new materials and ways of thinking, there are so many more options only a couple of years on. As lead designer Pascal Leboucq underlines, “We show the endless, potential material flows that are in stock and that can be used in the construction world. For example, materials from food, seaweed, (sewage) water, soil, funghi or even our own living environment. Materials of today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.” Indeed, the network of rooms, as well as the exterior of the building highlight what can be done with traditional materials such as cork and straw, as well as some less conventional substances including maize and algae.
All this is made possible by collaboration across multiple disciplines, with research from builders, producers, farmers, scientists, designers, governments, knowledge institutes, storytellers and artists who are united under the umbrella of The Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building. Together they work on new perspectives for sustainable building, and with it, living, that encompasses circular and biobased materials. And as the project shows, this need not be seen as overly complicated nor devalue the aesthetic or functionality of a building – The spaces they have created are both beautiful and practical.