Building a house from the ground up can be environmentally damaging. Buildings have a significant carbon footprint, with over 41% of global energy consumption attributed to buildings and structures. Buildings and materials also produce dangerous emissions that pollute our air, and the construction industry alone generates more than 170 tons of debris annually. There is also the issue of landfill waste, excessive use of water and noise pollution caused by the construction of buildings and houses.
SPEE Architecten, an architecture firm in the Netherlands, may have found a sustainable solution for building houses. Their projects focus on innovation and sustainability and creating healthy elements for both the residents and the environment. The architects created their newest project Speehuis House to create a site that minimally impacts the surrounding trees and wetlands with a structure that could be dismantled and recycled.
The house was built in a wooded area adjacent to a wetland area. The house’s form, size and layout are tailored to the needs of a family with three and adjoins SPEE Architects’ office premises. Large, strategically-placed windows offer a lot of natural light to the inner spaces and views of the outdoors. The entire house is made of circular and biobased materials. For example, the exterior walls and sloping roofs are made from untreated, high-density, biobased bamboo slats.
The team used Bamboo X-treme beams which consist of more than 90% of thermally modified bamboo strips. Bamboo absorbs a lot of CO2 during its growth, which remains stored throughout the product’s lifespan. Bamboo X-treme is extremely durable, dimensionally stable, and harder than most types of wood. When the bamboo fibres and resin are compressed at high temperatures, the natural sugar in the bamboo caramelizes, rendering it rot-resistant. These materials can be conveniently dismantled, adapted and recycled as need be.
Most of the home’s shell, including the stairs, interior doors, desks and cabinets, is made from cross-laminated timber that was chosen to avoid using concrete. The entire shell was prefabricated in less than a week. The wood was sourced from responsibly managed forests and was selected to create a natural and healthy indoor environment and a carbon sink. The architecture team estimates that over 93 000 kg of CO2 is stored within the building. In comparison, the same building built in concrete would produce 46,694 kg of CO2.
The home that SPEE Architecten has built shows us a future of what the construction industry can look like and how we can live more sustainably. The design is spacious and tasteful and allows for comfortable living without causing harm to the environment. If more architecture firms transitioned to building homes like the Speehuis House, the environmental impact from the construction industry would decrease substantially.