The world’s first algae-powered building

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The world’s first algae-powered building just opened in Hamburg! Dubbed the BIQ House, the project features a bio-adaptive algae facade and it will serve as a testing bed for sustainable energy production in urban areas and self-sufficient living buildings. International design firm Arup worked with Germany’s SSC Strategic Science Consultants and Austria-based Splitterwerk Architects to develop the BIQ House, which launched as part of Hamburg’s International Building Exhibition.

Arup predicts that buildings will fundamentally transform over the next fifty years due to developments ranging from jet-powered maintenance robots to high-rise farms and photovoltaic paint, all of which are already in development. But first and foremost, Arup envisions a movement towards living buildings that respond and adapt to the conditions around them. “The urban building of the future fosters this innate quality, essentially functioning as a living organism in its own right – reacting to the local environment and engaging with the users within,” contends Arup. The BIQ House is the first major step towards that vision.

According to Arup, the facade of the BIQ House is designed so that algae in the bio-reactor facades grows faster in bright sunlight to provide more internal shading. The ‘bio-reactors’ not only produce biomass that can subsequently be harvested, but they also capture solar thermal heat – and both energy sources can be used to power the building. This means that photosynthesis is driving a dynamic response to the amount of solar shading required, while the micro-algae growing in the glass louvres provide a clean source of renewable energy.

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“The world’s first algae-powered building”