Every second our global population grows by 2.47 people, all with the aspiration and right to a dignified life and participation in happiness and prosperity. At the same time, our natural resources with which we have so far sustained this endeavour are running low. The rapid disappearance of sand, zinc, copper or rare earths, as reported in the daily press, are only the first signs of a dramatic situation for future generations, that must be answered with novel resources, economic models and alternative energy sources. An understanding and recognition of urban mines, cultivated building materials and closed cycle models are central to this cause.
Operator of the ChangeLab – Wacker KIT Innovation Platform for Pioneering Sustainable Construction
The professorship of Sustainable Construction teaches and conducts research in the conviction that the academic environment has a central role to play in these questions and that it must sensitize and inspire future generations for these immense tasks. In addition to ecological, economic and social-ethical issues, the aesthetics in our discipline plays a crucial role: only what is breathtakingly beautiful, is sustainably preserved, cherished and valued.
More information about the professorship of Sustainable Construction: nb.ieb.kit.edu
Mehr.WERT.Pavillon. © Zooey Braun
Students, researchers and professors of KIT Karlsruhe, together with the architects’ office 2hs, realized this circular pavilion from recycling materials at the Federal Garden Show 2019 in Heilbronn. The Mehr.WERT.Pavillon is part of the so-called Mehr.WERT.Garten, a partner project of the Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg with the Entsorgungsbetriebe of the city of Heilbronn. It explores the question how we and future generations can live well and how we can develop our economy positively without consuming any of the scarce resources of our planet.
The Mehr.WERT.Pavillon serves as a clear example for this. All materials used in the project have already gone through at least one life cycle, in the same or modified form. The project proves overall the applicability of the raw material warehouse – also in structural applications – and shows the beauty inherent in the respective materials.
Steel and concrete—these are the first materials that come to mind when one thinks about building. But our resources are finite, which is why construction must break new ground.
Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) with its research outpost FCL in Singapore are leading the way by researching alternatives to conventional building materials. A result of years of research is “MycoTree”, a self-supporting structure made of fungal mycelium and bamboo. Its geometry was designed using 3D graphic statics, keeping the weak material in compression only. Its complex nodes were grown in digitally fabricated moulds.
Utilising only mycelium and bamboo, the structure represents a provocative vision of how we may move beyond the mining of our construction materials from the earth’s crust to their cultivation and urban growth; how achieving stability through geometry rather than through material strength opens up the possibility of using weaker materials structurally and safely; and, ultimately, how regenerative resources in combination with informed structural design have the potential to propose an alternative to established, structural materials for a more sustainable building industry.