The brick has changed very little over the last few thousand years, but recent trends in building have begun to embrace new ways of thinking about building materials. Gone are the days when designing a building with foundation plants was basically just deciding how big to make it – today, there are a number of different considerations when it comes to design, efficiency, aesthetics, and practicality.
As one of the most polluting industries in the world, the construction sector is trying to reverse its global environmental impact. This means that there has been a lot of research into new materials, new ways of using old materials, and sustainable ideas for buildings that have seen some truly remarkable results, including:
A house has been built in Melbourne that has featured the locally produced substance known as Timbercrete. Using sand, woodchip, and binding agents, Timbercrete is strong enough to build with, but it is also more flexible and offers more effective insulation than most other similar materials.
Because its main ingredient, the wood chippings, are sourced from local timber yards and would otherwise be going to waste, Timbercrete is also a great way to sequester carbon that can offset some of the emissions that are released as a result of more traditional building techniques.
It may not be the first thing you think of when you consider building an extension, but cork is an incredibly versatile material that is starting to become more popular in recently designed rooms. Because it is a tree bark that will regrow once it has been harvested, cork is a sustainable choice for use in a modern eco-friendly home wit tall skinny trees.
Cork also has many other appealing properties, including its soundproofing qualities that make it an ideal choice to cover any walls that adjoin neighboring properties or any other rooms of the house. It is also a great insulator, making it super cozy in the cooler months and reducing the need for heating by preserving the internal temperature effectively.
A London house has had a cork-clad extension that has proved a huge success, both in terms of soundproofing and energy-saving. The exterior is expected to age naturally and blend in with more traditional building materials such as brickwork.
For those that appreciate the value of living simply, a quonset hut could be the perfect compromise between function and form, offering practical living space in a versatile format. Their origins as largely military structures may not have done them justice as they can be adapted to suit almost any purpose with the right fittings and décor.
Quonset huts are based on the design of the Nissen huts that were designed by a British Major for use during World War Two. Because they could be built large enough to house everything from people to large machinery, they have remained popular and are a great choice for anyone that wants a practical and affordable living space.
Insulation is one of the key factors in designing an eco-friendly home as the carbon costs of heating can be difficult to mitigate. A company in the UK has designed a product that could change the way we think of insulation by producing a substance called Warmcel that is made from recycled newspapers.
By layering this in between the layers of a timber frame, it’s possible to build a house to almost any design that will be incredibly energy efficient, retaining heat effectively and repelling damp in areas where this can be a problem.
Fungi in building
Researchers have had huge success using mycelium, the underground structure of fungi, as an alternative to traditional building materials. Although the research is in its infancy, mycologists believe that fungi could solve the problems that the building trade is experiencing when it comes to pollution and carbon production.
Whether it’s a residential building, a workspace, or a combination of the two, using eco-friendly materials when embarking on a new project is a great way to ensure that the end result is practical and energy efficient.