One of the challenges that individuals in sustainable construction face is maintaining a balance of environmentally-friendly construction and aesthetics in order to foster a healthy living environment. However, through selective material choice, this can be achieved. Andrea Hörndler and Hannes Wizany document one such example in their blog, “Place to Be.” They set out to construct an ecological house that is fully sustainable without sacrificing design. Their eco-house incorporates a variety of environmentally-friendly materials, including Agrob Buchtal tiles that are eco-friendly, elegant and improve indoor air quality.
Located on a steep hill in the outskirts of Linz, Austria, Hörndler and Wizany’s house floats over the landscape. The sustainably-harvested wood volume suspends from a recycled steel structure that projects off the steep hillside. In view of the climate, the house features insulation made from salvaged wheat straw and building panels made from straw, clay plaster and clay slabs.
One of the challenges Hörndler and Wizany faced was designing the bathroom ecologically, especially since waterproofing materials are often unsustainable. However, they finally settled on using Agrob Buchtal ceramic tiles for walls and floors. The wall tiles used in the eco-house are from Agrob Buchtal’s District series. They are beveled on all sides and reminiscent of the white tiles found in metro stations of large cities. Their trendy, bright hue complements the more muted, modern grey floor tiles. For maximum benefit, both types of tiles incorporate the Hytect effect. This enhances antibacterial properties, is easy to clean and improves air quality.
The Hytect effect uses the concept of photocatalysis, which means light is used to incite a chemical reaction. The tiles use a mixture of clay and titanium dioxide. The titanium dioxide acts as a catalyst, which induces reactions between light, oxygen and humidity. Through this process, the tiles form active oxygen species that can eliminate odors and air pollutants, and even prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and algae. Since the Hytect effect is part of the ceramic mixture, it does not wear off and is reactivated with exposure to artificial or natural light.
The tiles are also hydrophilic, or water-friendly. When the tiles are wet, the water spreads out as a film on the tile. This mixes with dirt and wipes off without the use of harsh cleaning products.
Through conscious design decisions, sustainable material choices, like Agrob Buchtal tiles, does not need to be dull and unattractive. Conversely, they can enhance the visual quality of a space, whilst minimizing environmental impact.
Images via Lumina Kreativagentur and Ourplacetobe