2022 Retrospective: Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building

How do we ensure that the millions of homes that will be built and renovated in the coming years are CO2 and nitrogen negative? How can these homes contribute to soil quality, biodiversity and a healthier living environment? These questions are central to the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building. During Dutch Design Week 2022 (DDW22) the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building introduced a new project: Possible Landscapes.

Type Update
Published on 22 November 2022
Part of Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building
2022 Retrospective: Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building
Part of Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building

In recent years, the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building has been working on a fully circular and biobased house. From the walls to the roof tiles, everything was made from natural materials. A large group of pioneers worked on the house, called ‘The Exploded View – Beyond Building’. Numerous companies and organisations recognise that construction can and must be organised differently in the future. Together, they have spent the past year further developing their plans and products to make construction more sustainable. During DDW22, these trailblazers shared their research and findings in the Embassy.

An ode to the frontrunners

The exhibition Ode to the fronteers also featured a scale model of the biobased house: The Nature Building Kit. In addition, the results of a study with TNO were shared. TNO investigated how nine innovative materials and building systems from ‘The Exploded View – Beyond Building’ can contribute to CO2 and nitrogen reduction. The results and insights obtained were presented during the exhibition. Lucas De Man, curator of the Embassy of Circular and Biobased Building, said of the exhibition: “With ‘An Ode to the Frontrunners’, we want to show what is already possible in the field of sustainable construction. At the same time, we are also able to reveal the challenges we are still facing, for example in scaling up”.

Read more about the ideas behind the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building in this interview with curator Lucas De Man.

There are plenty of options. Affiliated with the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building are various designers working on making our living environment more sustainable and circular. They focus on a variety of projects ranging from very practical plans to extremely abstract ideas. For example, Scape Agency produces a bioreceptive alternative to concrete. CO2-absorbing mosses grow on the concrete, making the environment more green instead of grey. Within TNO’s Field Lab for Zero-Emission Building, the idea arose to use dredged materials from waterways as a circular sediment. This material can replace finite raw materials such as sand. 

Sustainable materials are also available for the facades of homes. Strotec, for example, makes a biobased and prefab facade system that consists mainly of straw. The system ensures a healthy indoor climate and it stores CO2. Exie’s insulation material, which is primarily composed of hemp, does the same.

Transforming not only the home but the entire living environment

The exhibition was the conclusion of the project focusing on the biobased house that the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building has been working on in recent years. “But there is much more to do. We have continued to look at the next steps”, says De Man. These will take shape in the coming years in the Possible Landscapes project. Because to really switch to a new way of building requires more than just sustainable home building materials. It is about changes in the entire living environment, in the entire system in which we now live.  

North Brabant will be the initial starting point for this project. Stakeholders in each region will come together to explore opportunities and solutions to make the living environment more sustainable. These solutions will then be translated into a model of biobased materials. “This will allow various organisations to enter into a conversation with each other and with citizens about the future in an accessible way”, says De Man about the models.

Watch here the Curator Tour with curators Lucas De Man and Pascal Leboucq here. This offers you a complete picture of the exhibition of the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building. 

Co-creation is the starting point

During DDW22, the Possible Landscapes project began with the De Peel region. Builders, producers, farmers, scientists, designers, governments and knowledge institutions came together in special sessions to sketch the first contours of new landscapes in De Peel. At the Embassy, they searched for new perspectives and angles. 

Ellen van Genechten, Sustainability and Innovation Manager at Hurks, participated in the Possible Landscapes session: “I found it super inspiring. I now feel that I want to keep going. We are certainly working on extending the chain, but what I’m taking with me from this session is that I really need to look at the farmers, suppliers and producers of biobased materials and how we might also include them in the process in a different way”.

These sessions during DDW are just the beginning. Possible Landscapes will not stop after DDW. It is a multi-year project that various companies and organisations can join. De Man: “Using the models from different regions, we can ultimately make one large exhibition about what is possible now, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow”.  

Do you want to contribute to the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building or are you curious about future developments? Sign up for the newsletter, visit the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building homepage or contact us.

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