Everyone knows that plants are great to have around your domicile; from a full-blown vegetable garden or a small window box, plants are said to bring a sense of life and energy to any home. But what about homes powered by plants? To find those, you’ll have to travel to Hamburg, Germany, where a small apartment complex is set to open later this month and become the world’s first algae-powered complex as part of a groundbreaking structure.
Algae-Powered Apartments Set to Open in Germany
BIQ House, as it is dubbed by it’s creators, has been polished off and is set to open later this month as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) across the German city this summer, bringing with it a daring take on how we view plants and architecture when looking for solutions to energy problems.
The 15-unit Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House is capable of generating it’s own biomass and heat, thanks to 129 integrated glass bio-reactor panels across it’s southeast and southwest facing sides. Designed not to look out of place on the facade of the building, these algae-harvesters are a mere .78 inches thick and also boast the ability to shade the building, provide inherent thermal insulation and even block out noise pollution from the surrounding streets.
Built exclusively for the IBA by the joint team of Austria-based sustainable architecture firm Spitterwerks Architects, Colt International, Strategic Science Consult, and global engineering firm ARUP, the process of creating energy from the matured algae in BIQ house is equally as fascinating.
The algae from each panel is grown on a cycle that as capable of being separated from the rest of the microorganisms in each bio-reactor – once maturity is reached the algae is fermented in an external bio-gas plant so they can once again once they have spent more time in the bio-reactors.
Additionally, each panel-shaped bio-reactor is capable of collecting sunlight not used by the algae to grow – the heat from which is used to create hot water or heating straight away, or stored for later use using the subterranean borehole heat exchangers built into the complex – for a completely all-renewable, zero-carbon housing solution.
Jan Arup, a research leader for ARUP, said in a news release issued by the company:
“Using bio-chemical processes in the facade 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.”
Officially a test for the possibility of more algae-powered buildings in the future, should such designs make it’s way into office blocks or warehouses, we could well see a knock-on effect for business energy and – thanks to the heat-producing properties of the bio-reactors – commercial gas solutions, too.
However, at a cool $3.4 million to develop this prototype, it may well be a while before we see any office blocks go – quite literally – green.