Gallery: World’s First Algae-Powered Building by Splitterwerk Architect...


We’ve all heard about buildings powered by solar or wind energy, but an algae-powered building? Splitterwerk Architects have designed just such a structure, dubbed BIQ, which will be the very first of its kind. Covered with a bio-adaptive façade of microalgae, the distinctive building has been designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg and quite frankly, it’s awesome!

To create the algae façade, the building is covered in bio-reactive louvers that enclose the algae. These louvers allow the algae to survive and grow faster than they would otherwise while also providing shade for the interior of the building. Additionally, the bio-reactors trap the heat energy created by the algae, which can then be harvested and used to power the building. Once the building is completed, it will be evaluated by scientists and engineers to allow for future research and adaptation for future building projects.

The project is a collaboration between Spitterwerk Architects, Strategic Science Consult of Germany, ARUP and Colt International, who are responsible for the louver design. According to Simon O’Hea, Director at Colt, “It’s been a very rewarding scheme to be involved in. We have put a lot of work into meeting the technical challenges and we now have a commercial-scale, effective solution that uses live algae as a smart material to deliver renewable energy. You can’t get greener than that.”

+ Splitterwerk

Via psfk


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  1. Tony Cutri April 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Have calculations been done to see what percentage of the building\\\’s energy needs will be met with the algae to fuel? or to electricity? Also how do you control \\\”fouling\\\” of the plumbing which is used to transport the algae. I used to raise unicellular algae in a lab condition and it get\\\’s very thick and sticky.

  2. Chris Hemmings March 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    So for woodland it might be 15 tonnes per hectare per annum. For this building what 3 to 5 tonnes per annum? Pretty, blends in well but won\\\’t drive many computers, methinks.

  3. freelyn March 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

    How much energy does this setup produce and what is the cost of the necessary implementation to produce it?

  4. arkitrekker March 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I don’t get it. How does the algae power the building? The article completely fails to explain the premise in the headline.

  5. Dee Nagenta March 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    This is awesome!!! I saw a project designed like this for the 2003 Riba energy revolution competition ( – it\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s great to see one actually in action! Looks like this group ORE better act fast and get their design built too.

  6. bthinker March 6, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Also, some relay lenses wouldn’t hurt in the top.

  7. bthinker March 6, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Semi impressed. Power, and a carbon scrubber. More innovation brought in part by ARUP, been a fan of them for years. Maybe use some complex biodigesters, or organic/microbial fuel cell batteries.. I’d take it further in a cyclic nature, but still cool. A step in my direction.

  8. Catherine Koehler March 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    In Hamburg, I have no doubt the algae will grow like crazy in the summer with those long days, but I wonder how much it grows in the winter? I live a little farther south (47.5 degrees latitude) and there is a big difference in translucence (visibility) of the seawater summer vs winter due to greater algal growth in summer.

  9. tashypriddle October 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

    This is absolutley brilliant and beautiful, I cant wait to see the results of this prototype building! bravo

  10. wsun October 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Super cool!

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