13th April 2013
The first 100% algae-powered building has been constructed in Hamburg, Germany.
With 15 apartment units, the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House demonstrates a cost-effective way of producing environmentally-friendly, sustainable architecture. It is one of many projects currently being showcased at the International Building Exhibition.
The BIQ House took around three years to build, with design and construction costs of €5 million ($6.5 million). It features "bio-reactors" in the facade which contain microalgae. These live in a water solution, with nutrients and carbon dioxide provided by an automated system. Each of the 129 tanks can be rotated towards the Sun, generating biomass that can either cool or heat the building, while serving as a renewable energy source.
Even if you don't believe in man-made climate change, this type of building makes sense from an economic viewpoint – given the finite supply of fossil fuels. Such "living" buildings could actually produce more resources than they consume, potentially easing the population crisis. They are expected to be commonplace by 2050.
Josef Hargrave, consultant in Arup's Foresight + Innovation team: "By producing food and energy, and providing clean air and water, buildings can evolve from being passive shells into adaptive and responsive organisms – living and breathing structures supporting the cities of tomorrow."