Bacteria account for 60% of the total mass of living matter on the planet. They have been here since the very beginning, and they are vital for everything that lives. Each bacterium has its own specific functions, and those functions can also be very useful for building houses or making clothes or everyday objects.
Materials deserve more than one destination. However, large construction components are often permanently connected. This makes replacement or re-use difficult. Detachability is an essential requirement for re-use of the materials. The solution for flexible assembly and disassembly of parts lies in the material itself: limiting the combination of different materials makes up- and recycling easier.
Urban Mining is the extraction and re-use of material from existing buildings. Buildings are currently often completely demolished and few raw materials are re-used. Yet, the production of a facade part or window frame requires a lot of energy and production time. Urban mining is a method that makes it possible to use these products for much longer than usual, saving energy, production time and resources.
A considerable part of all products made, end up as waste. Every year, 65% of all textile in the Netherlands ends up being burned. These 135 million kilos of textile can be transformed into building materials by connecting the financial and distribution models of the textile industry to the building sector. And not only textile can be turned into new products: contemporary pioneers and designers play an essential role in developing concrete ideas for upcycling discarded products.
3D printers are a fast and clever alternative for conventional construction methods. Printers are faster, less labor-intensive and require fewer types of materials and energy. Using printers at the construction site will result in considerable savings on transport. The current challenge is to start printing with relatively rapidly renewable materials, such as clay or calcium carbonate.
One third of all produced food is wasted. At the moment these ‘residual flows’ do not have a full-fledged re-use. A new generation of designers is showing the enormous potential of upgrading food waste into high quality building materials. Strengthening the collaboration between the food and building sector will make these materials widely applicable.
Fungi come in various shapes and sizes and form enormous underground networks. They contribute to the growth of plants and trees and optimize agriculture. The building sector is also becoming aware of the qualities of fungi . Mycelium networks can be used for fast-paced growth of building materials that are also biodegradable.
Water is an important source from which natural materials can be extracted. Our planet consists for 70 percent of seas and oceans. In addition to the advance of sea farms that are cultivating algae and seagrasses, cities also provide more space for water plants such as cattail and reed. Not only are these wet crops essential for biodiversity and counteracting harmful subsidence, they can also be used as building material.
Plants are the largest and richest source of biobased construction materials and they are already widely applied. The next step in processing plants into building materials, is exploring how we can convert existing landscapes or even cityscapes into production landscapes. Scaling up production should go hand in hand with protecting ecology, living in a natural environment and CO2 absorption.
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 have been used in specific applications, which makes them suitable for re-use. In addition, by excavating earth on construction sites and transforming it into building materials, we can avoid the annual transport of millions of cubic meters of earth.