Presented by Startbahn, the exhibition Wetland Lab runs from October 29 to December 11, 2022 at SRR Project Space, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. Wetland is a research project into ecosystems and sustainable materials led by waiwai research and design agency. They are working to propose an alternative to cement: a salt-based alternative inspired by sabkhas, or crystalline salt formations found in the wetlands in the United Arab Emirates.

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A building illuminated with light from within of people viewing an exhibit on the ground floor

The research was started at the Pavilion of the UAE at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021, with the exhibition Wetland. The pavilion was awarded a Golden Lion for Best National Participation, the Biennale’s highest award. This new exhibition at SRR Project Space marks the first time this research is being exhibited in Japan.

Related: A garden that explores diversity through plant life

An exhibit with white podiums and rocks and sculptures on top of them with a person viewing a wall photography of powerlines to the left

The Wetland exhibition in Venice offered up a prototype of a salt-based cement material made from recycled industrial waste brine. This material could reduce the construction industry’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.

A wavy white sculpture piece

Moreover, Portland, Oregon cement used in construction is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. So sustainable architecture has been looking for ways to reduce cement use in new builds.

An arched sculpture made out of brown stuff

Thereby, the material created by waiwai uses salt as a binding agent. Then, it relies on a crystallization process inspired by the sabkhas of the UAE. The exhibition also explores the ways technology can be used for the development of sustainable new construction materials such as this.

A walkway with intricate details along the walls

As a result, the work of waiwai research and design agency on view in the exhibition furthers SRR Project Space’s mission to connect the local community of Shimokitazawa with the latest research projects in contemporary art and design from around the world.

+ Waiwai Design

Images via Waiwai