Algae, a new form of ecological construction


by Esteban Tejedor

Posted on May 26, 2021

Algae, a new form of ecological construction

Currently, algae are being used to feed livestock, produce textiles and biofuel. These plant organisms are also now being used in construction as an environmentally responsible solution. Introducing living matter in construction is a promising path that is now beginning its journey.

The following information is extracted from an interview with Mª Rosa Cervera, professor of Architectural Composition and Director of the University Master's Degree in Advanced Architecture and City Project at the University of Alcalá de Henares, in Madrid (Spain).

Building enclosure surfaces are increasingly versatile places to make their enclosure function compatible with others such as producing energy and capturing CO2. This vision of multifunctionality of architecture has a double contribution since it benefits society by using architecture for a function of energy and environmental value, which adds to its usual constructive missions, and benefits construction by providing greater isolation of the building.

The great innovation of the project is the combination of two fields, the constructive and the biological, in a highly disruptive and unique way to achieve a sustainable city, with a holistic vision of energy, by cultivating algae in architecture.

In this way, green technology, which provides an extraordinary aesthetic value, becomes a global awareness.


Architectural photobioreactors with algae


Architectural photobioreactors consist of water conduction systems with microalgae, nutrients and CO2, whether they are closed tubular, sandwich laminar or open pond, always with materials that allow light to pass for the photosynthesis process (glasses, methacrylates and various plastics, EFTE, etc.) and with the particular characteristic of being integrated or having as support the construction surfaces, both of buildings and pavements of the city or urban elements.

In the near future, using this technology will be an efficient way to capture CO2 and increase the production of bioenergy and other valuable products. And from the point of view of architecture, the incorporation of photobioreactors will be a creative way of introducing nature so that cities become more ecological and go from being consumers to being energy producers, inverting the current unsustainable model.

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