If you’ve ever experienced composting in action, you may know that things can get pretty hot when microbes meet organic material. So what if there was a way to capture all that heat and use it to warm up a cozy little space? Tokyo based architects Bakoko have come up with a circular pod-shaped teahouse that does just that by harnessing temperatures in excess of 120°F that are generated by compost. The designers are taking a simple, biological process and turning it into a viable (and free) way to heat small public spaces like the traditional garden teahouses found all throughout Japan.
Tentatively named “Comploo,” Bakoko‘s small structure is composed of a series of large, specially shaped compost hoppers arranged in a ring to form an enclosure. To feed the composter, garden waste, food scraps or other compost materials can be dropped in through a door at the top of each bin.
A system of sealed ducts runs through each of the bins, and as the air circulates within the walls, the decaying compost warms it. This heated air is in turn emitted through a central vent that releases into the structure’s interior. Occupants can comfortably sit along a circular bench surrounding the heat source, and enjoy the ambient natural light permeating through the transparent dome roof above.
Currently the design team is hard at work resolving technical details, such as how to adequately aerate the compost, control moisture, and mitigate odors. They hope to build a fully-composting prototype soon. Bakoko forsees the structure best suited as a resting point in large urban parks, community gardens, or even serving as an outdoor cafe – “anywhere that generates a continuous supply of organic waste for fuel.”