Friday, October 17, 2014

"Solarleaf" Façade

The world’s first full-scale Bioreactive façade at the BIQ house in Germany is going ‘live’ as microalgae are fed into the system for the first time.

The tiny green algae will play a huge role in determining the future potential of this technology, which aims to provide shade and a renewable fuel source for the experimental apartment.
The BIQ house was built as part of this year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this innovative passive-energy house generates microalgae biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionalities such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

Known as "SolarLeaf", this innovative façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bio-reactor concept developed by SSC Ltd and design work led by the international design consultant and engineering firm, Arup. Funding support came from the German Government’s “ZukunftBau” research initiative.

Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario”, said Jan Wurm, Arup Research Leader.
The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water. The heat is directly available to the house as heating energy, while the generated algae biomass becomes utilized in another location and converted into biogas.

The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m (8.2 x 2.3 feet). In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-story residential building, creating a total surface of 200 square meters (2152 square feet).

Geothermal energy and the connection to the Integrated Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central secure the heat supply and also serve as a long-term reservoir for the heat that is generated in summer. The extensively greened roof provides the opportunity to harvest electricity via the photovoltaic system.

The apartments will employ the concept used by some dorm rooms and caravans – dwelling on demand has found its contemporary enhanced development in the BIQ. Rooms functions can be alternatively or simultaneously ‘patched into form a neutral zone suitable for different needs.

The BIQ project is a milestone in opening up this value chain and creating a subsequent infrastructure. The developed bioreactors also capture solar thermal heat with an efficiency of approx. 50%. At the BIQ the heat is extracted by the use of heat exchangers and the temperature levels of the excess heat can be increased by using a heat pump for the supply of hot water or heating the building or stored geothermally. The system comprises bioreactor panels, associated mechanical services and the control unit to link the mass flows and optimize the efficiency of the building. The BIQ plays an important role in establishing surplus energy and zero carbon building clusters for the future.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Adaptive Reuse + "Collective Eatery" = Revitalization

TGIF to the viewers!

For this week's YEOW, we'd like to share with you a very cool adaptive reuse/revitalization project out of Denver, Colorado. A great blog called DenverUrbanism originally reported on this unique concept: Adaptive reuse of an old printing building for a restaurant incubator, or "collective eatery." The original post is found below:

"Adaptive reuse—that’s planner-speak for the repurposing of an old building—is an important part of helping cities revitalize and grow in a sustainable way. Some adaptive reuse projects are no-brainers, where the historic and architectural quality of the existing building is so great that to demolish the building instead of reusing it doesn’t make any sense. Good examples would include the Colorado National Bank (now the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel) and The Source.

Then there’s the adaptive reuse project called Avanti Food and Beverage at 32nd and Pecos in Lower Highland. The existing building looks like this today:

Okay, maybe not an architectural masterpiece, but that’s alright! Even if the structure itself isn’t all that glamorous, the reuse of an old building—in addition to being an environmentally friendly option—helps preserve some of the neighborhood’s physical scale and offers a reminder of fast-changing Lower Highland’s economic roots. This structure, built in 1935, was occupied by Avanti Printing and Graphics for many years. Here’s a view of the inside:

After its physical transformation is complete, this will be the home of Avanti Food and Beverage, a “collective eatery.” The concept behind this project is really cool. Most people are now familiar with coworking spaces, where small start-up companies share office space and resources and collaborate with each other. Avanti Food and Beverage will be very similar, except it’s for restaurants instead.

The building will house eight different restaurants, each operating out of a modified 8′ x 20′ shipping container. This allows restaurant entrepreneurs, particularly up-and-coming chefs, the opportunity to launch a new restaurant or test a new food concept for a fraction of the cost of building out a traditional restaurant space, all while fostering creativity in a cooperative “restaurant incubator” environment. Customers will have a great selection of affordably priced and innovative food, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas to share, and two bars offering adult beverages.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of the Avanti development team. Here’s an example of the shipping container-turned-kitchen:

and here is the ground-level interior floor plan showing five of the eight shipping container/restaurants, shared seating areas, and one of the bar areas:

Three more restaurant spaces, the other bar, and additional seating will be built out on the roof, providing awesome views of the Downtown Denver skyline. Here’s a rendering of the rooftop deck, followed by a photo I took from the roof (the power lines will be buried):

The building will be given a thorough makeover and new windows will bring a lot of natural light to the interior. The grounds will be landscaped along with additional patio seating overlooking Highland Gateway Park:

Renovation work will be getting underway soon and the project is planned to open Spring 2015.   
The Avanti Food and Beverage project is fantastic in so many ways. It renovates an old building in disrepair; it infuses energy and activity next to a small public park; it adds an innovative concept to Denver’s booming culinary scene; and it brings another great dining option to Denver’s hottest restaurant neighborhood."

Can't wait to hear how it all turns out! Here is the link to the original post. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Natural Homes - Building With Your Countries Raw Materials


This tiny egg shaped treehouse shelter is hiding in the hemlock forests of Whistler, Canada. It's made using reclaimed materials, some of which came from Craigslist. Like all unique shelters Joel Allen's treehouse was a labour of love. Joel wanted the treehouse to be in harmony with the land. This is a process all natural builders go through trying to find the right local materials and the right design for the right plot of land.


This is a traditional turf home for the Sami people of the northern Scandinavian countries. This one is in Staloluokta, Sweden where it is known as a Goahti. The same architecture in Norway it called a Gamme. This particular Goahti is a church, possibly the only one of its kind. In Norway you can stay in these Sami turf homes, sleeping on reindeer skins warmed by an open stone circle fire, while you attend a workshop in Sami crafts, duodji.


There's an organisation of devoted women called Kleiwerks building homes like this cob school in Lago Puelo, Argentina. Their latest initiative is WASI teaching women to build natural homes and strong communities.


These are clay catenary domes, called obos, of the Musgum people in the Cameroon. They provide efficient cooling in the baking heat with a round ventilation hole at the top and a small entrance with no windows. The high dome collects the hot air moving it away from the living space. The patterns on the exterior of the obos aren’t just for decoration. You can find out what they are for here in this article about the catenary arch and discover other structures including Gaudi's work.

This is 'La Cabane Cocon' (The Cocoon Treehouse). It uses a light steel
framework to support the woven branches but otherwise it natural. The same
structure could be built with a bamboo frame or similar. It was built
by Jean-Yves Behoteguy, a French 'sculpteur sur bois' (sculptor of wood).
This is 'The Gibbon Experience', a lush and peaceful jungle where you can
learn how to find fresh water in the vines and which flowers and plants are edible.
The treehouse is on three levels, three bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area and
a bathroom all accessible by zip lines.

For more information and Nature Homes see link below: