The house made from nature shows what’s possible

It is possible to build a house almost entirely from at least 100 different plant-based or natural materials that are either commercially available already, or are soon coming to market, a Dutch eco-design studio has demonstrated.

Biobased Creations built a showhome almost entirely from biomaterials including wood, mycelium, seaweed, straw and vegetable fibres as well as earth and sewage, with only the glass windows and metal screw fixings not being biomaterials. It wa unveiled at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven Oct. 16-24, 2021.

Biobased Creations

“We used 100 bio-based materials because we wanted to show what is possible,” Biobased Creations CEO and co-founder Lucas De Man told DeZeen magazine. The Exploded View Beyond Building, a huge modular installation made with almost 100 different materials and 6 different construction methods, involved more than 100 partners.

The design process began back in 2019. Biobased Creations and its partners had just made The Growing Pavilion, a pavilion made out of mycelium and five other biobased materials. That was followed in 2019 by the installation The Exploded View Materials and Methods, a house with more than 40 biobased materials and circular building methods which has been travelling the world since, showcasing what is possible in sustainable building. 

And in turn, it led to the current Exploded View Beyond Building – an exhibition in the shape of a house where stories are shared in addition to materials and methods

“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.” says designer Pascal Leboucq of Biobased Creations. 

“You walk through the house and you can see, feel and smell all the materials. Each room has its own story.” Storytellers were present during the exhibit to introduce people to the world of circular building and answer questions.

The categories of biomaterials included:

  1. Funghi and bacteria:

Fungi come in many shapes and sizes and form gigantic indispensable networks in the soil. The building industry now sees the qualities of fungi. They grow fast, are light as a feather, water resistant, fire retardant, sound dampening, sometimes even self-healing and can be completely composted after use. Bacteria account for 60% of the total mass of living matter on the planet, and are vital for everything that lives. Each bacterium has its own specific functions, which can also be very useful for building houses or making clothes or everyday objects.

  1. Living materials

If we want a more sustainable world, our buildings must not only be less polluting, they must also create more nature. By arranging facades, walls, roofs and ceilings in such a way that plants and flowers can grow, we not only provide more greenery, we strengthen biodiversity, help with water collection and purify the air both inside and outside.

  1. Food

One third of all the food we produce is thrown away, ending up as waste or used for green energy production. A new generation of designers is showing the enormous potential of these food wastes by converting them into high-quality building materials. 

4. Water

Our earth consists of 70% seas and oceans. In addition to sea farms that cultivate algae, seaweed and other sea grasses, cities are also giving more and more space to aquatic plants such as reeds and cattails. These wet crops are not only essential for biodiversity and the prevention of harmful subsidence, but can also be used as building material. We show water applications in our house for both outdoor and indoor use.

5. Sewage

There are things in it that we don’t want to smell, taste, see, but sewers contain a lot of valuable substances and minerals that, with the right filtering, canmake beautiful materials. With these materials we can build, design, purify the soil and all this completely biologically.

6) Earth

Common minerals like clay and loam are almost infinitely available in the Dutch river delta due to their constant supply through water. These materials can be brought back to their original form even after they being used in specific applications, which makes them suitable for re-use. 

7) Plants

Besides wood, plants are the most common building materials. Hemp, the most commonly used plant at the moment, grows easily and everywhere, requires little water and provides an enormous amount of material possibilities. In addition to special cultivation of plants for the construction industry, which is a perfect alternative revenue model for agriculture, many materials also are made from residual flows from food production. In the coming years, in both rural and urban areas, we will see an increase in greenery that helps us build, breathe and live. Pants and trees absorb CO2, give us back oxygen and are a perfect supplier for sturdy and healthy sustainable materials.