More on Bio-Building


Fungi? Bacteria? Now Algae. Bio-building. Let’s grow and prosper.


Last week we wrote about fungi insulation and bacteria-enhanced bricks. This week we fish out a story featuring algae in, or rather on, a building, as reported in Wired.

In April, the engineering firm Arup began publicizing what the company called, “The world’s first building powered by algae.”at the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany. Now one can watch a video from Arup that tells the building story complete with sound effects.

The Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building recipe sounds almost like a salad for home self sufficiency. The building houses 15 dwellings.

The algae in skinny, aquarium-like panels, creates a second exterior skin to the building, referred to as “bioreactor façade,” that is mounted on building’s southeast and southwest sides. The 129 bioreactor tank panels contain algae that grows in direct sunlight. When harvested, the algae can be turned into a biofuel-like pulp. The pulp powers a generator in the building.

Water pumped into the bioreactor tanks contains carbon dioxide and nutrients to feed the algae. Pressurized air pumped into the tanks increases algae growth. Lest the tanks end up looking too much like a neglected aquarium, scrubbers in the panels automatically clean the glass. However, the facade will eventually turn green. And watching the panels at work has the hypnotic effect of lava lites, only bigger, much bigger.The building also uses solar panels and stores the heat generated in 80-meter-deep, brine-filled boreholes.

The 2,152-square-foot, algae bio panels not only make fuel but also shade the building and reduce noise.

The Austrian firm, Splitterwerks Architects designed the building. Germany’s SSC Strategic Scientific Consult also participated. Funding came from the German government’s “Zukunft Bau” (“Future Construction”) subsidy, which supports construction-industry innovation in renewable and zero-energy design.

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