An algae-powered building seems like something that might have appeared in the axed script of The Grinch 2: Green is for Greed, Not Envy. One can only imagine the furry villain-turned-saviour setting his sights on corporate dominance. In any case, we digress; algae-powered buildings are apparently a thing.
The world is adapting to clean power, which is why we are seeing more and more solar and wind power creeping into industry. But the new kid on the block is algae, and it looks set to bring new meaning to the phrase ‘Green Power.’
Is There Really an Algae-Powered Building?
As things stand, you can’t just dash around the corner and visit a slimy building. The algae-covered building exists thanks to the visionaries at Splitterwerk Architects, and it’s the first of its kind. The structure, which has been nick-named BIQ, was dreamed up for the International Building Exhibition, which will be held next month in Hamburg.
The goal of the architecture firm was to create a building that powers itself completely through renewable sources, and doesn’t use limited resources like fossil fuels. The algae on the building’s exterior is thus not just to turn heads, it is directly responsible for generating the energy that runs the building.
How Does Algae Power a Whole Building?
The building appears as a normal building would on the inside. However, it has an exterior skin – a shell, of sorts – that is set into the building’s façade. This skin houses a set of glass louvres which house microalgae.
The microalgae are supplied with specific nutrients, which increase their growth rate. The algae create biomass, which is harvested to create energy. But, aside from the biomass, the building is able to create energy using the heat stored in the algae. This heat can be used to heat water and air, or it can be stored in an underground cache. This cache, an engineering feat in itself, is able to store heat in brine-filled borehole heat exchangers.
Tomorrow’s Building, Today
BIQ is not just a stylish building. Granted, the bright green louvres attached to the building’s façade do add a very aesthetic appeal to the building. But, more important than reinventing the physical features of modern architecture, BIQ stands as a bright look into the future of sustainable energy.
BIQ is essentially a meeting of two worlds; functional and stylish. Filled with features that serve both camps, this building is the perfect amalgamation of interesting design concepts and renewable energy – which is exactly what the future needs.
Image credit: http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2013/02/one_cool_or_crazy_thing_biq_ho.html