Building powered by algae growing on its facade

October 24, 2012

The very first building in the world with a shading system consisting of live micro-algae is being built in the suburb of Wilhemsburg in Hamburg. The “algae house” will be complete in 2013 and will comprise approximately 200 square meters of such elements. (Credit: Arup Germany GmbH)

The BIQ house in Germany features a “bio-adaptive façade” that uses microalgae to generate renewable energy and provide shade, PSFK reports.

Designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, the zero-energy house will be the first real-life test for the new façade system.

Algae in the bio-reactor façades grow faster in bright sunlight to provide more shade. The bio-reactors power the building by capturing solar thermal heat and producing biomass that can be harvested.

The BIQ house was designed by Splitterwerk Architects, in collaboration with Colt International, Arup, and SSC. Arup’s Europe Research Leader, Jan Wurm, said:

To use bio-chemical processes for adaptive shading is a really innovative and sustainable solution so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario. As well as generating renewable energy and providing shade to keep the inside of the building cooler on sunny days, it also creates a visually interesting look that architects and building owners will like.

The building is due to be completed in March 2013, and it will allow scientists, engineers, and builders the opportunity to assess the full potential of the system as a green alternative.