A house of popcorn and mushrooms: join the creation process of The Exploded View

The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building is about building with eggs, popcorn, mushrooms and seaweed. With materials from nature, which can also be returned to nature. Or into the production process. That requires different methods of design. A conversation with two insiders about a construction world in change. “We know where materials come from. Now comes the question: but where do they go next?”

Type Topic
Date 15 October 2020
Topic
A house of popcorn and mushrooms: join the creation process of The Exploded View

Lucas De Man is the curator of the Embassy of CBB. It’s not up to him, he says, to make judgements on what is right or wrong when it comes to construction projects. He sees a world that is constantly changing. And with a climate problem, an urgent need for more housing and the first successful experiments to build biobased, now is the time, he says, to prepare ourselves for real change. “Because if things start moving fast, you’d better be ready for it.”

Photo by The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building

And that is exactly what this Embassy is going to do in the next 24 months. An extensive project that startedlast year. Anyone who visited DDW 2019 will undoubtedly remember The Growing Pavilion. An imposing structure on the Ketelhuisplein, made of wood, hemp, cotton and mycelium. It was a real success. Visitors learnt what it takes to build a reception hall, or better: to grow it, with natural materials. And that there’s even beauty in threads of fungus. But one question remained: can you also construct a house with these materials? 

The answer is The Exploded View. Pascal Leboucq, working together with Lucas De Man at Company New Heroes, is the inventor of the house. The interactive installation incorporates the applications and materials of today, tomorrow and the future. From products that already exist but have difficulty finding their way to the construction site to developments that still need serious support to develop and scale up. 

The project is a joint journey into discovering how to use biobased materials, circular methods and newconstruction techniques that come along. “More and more building materials are made from food waste, textiles, sewage or even our own living environment. We search for materials that can keep the production circle as small and efficient as possible”, says Leboucq. 

Photo by The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building
Photo by The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building

During DDW 2020, a ‘library’ will be published online showing each material used in The Exploded View, with information on where it comes from, what the production process looks like and how much CO2 it produces (or captures). De Man is happy that experts work together and share their knowledge on this open source platform. “It’s no longer, who will find the holy grail? But, what can we learn from each other? The revolution is not going to happen with one biobased product or circular method, we really need to do this together.”

In the meantime, Leboucq has been working with about sixty materials and methods, each of which has been looked at to find a suitable room in the house. Take the kitchen for example, which is made from waste streams from the food industry. “It’s a bit like walking on eggs”, the designer jokes when he tells about the tiles made from eggshells. It’s a material from Studio Basse Stittgen, which investigates how to reuse discarded eggs. 

 Designer Samira Boon works with textile waste, which is disposed of in the Netherlands every year in the order of 210,000 kilotons. In The Exploded View you can see her BioFold, panels that can be used as a wall or because of their acoustic function. The jute panels are pressed and folded in a beautiful, origami-like way. 

 Biobased material is linked to circular construction in this Embassy. By challenging designers to develop products that can easily be taken apart and rebuilt elsewhere. “We know where materials come from”, says De Man. “Now comes the question: but where do they go next?” In addition to designers, governments and contractors, the curator therefore talks to banks about new forms of home ownership.

Photo by The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building
Photo by The Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building

“Our search is also about the future of housing. Because if we really want to make a change to a circular and biobased world, we have to do more than just build differently. We also need to redefine how we live and how we give value to our homes. We invite visitors to think along with us about this.”

“For me,” Leboucq concludes, “The Exploded View is certainly also an ode to the aesthetics of biomaterials. It is a different material than we are used to working with, with its own strengths and beauty. I don’t think we should use it to imitate current architecture. Let’s take a good look at materials from nature and discover the new forms and possibilities they provide us.”

Would you like to learn more or do you feel like participating in this project? The interactive installation The Exploded View can be visited online during DDW. A scale model will be shown at various locations in the Netherlands in the near future. At DDW21 we hope to present a full scale version of The Exploded View. 

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