Building in Harmony with Nature: Introducing a New Eco-Friendly Architectural Design

Building in Harmony with Nature: Introducing a New Eco-Friendly Architectural Design

In the bustling construction sites of Berlin, large amounts of Concrete are being fried and used. This practice, however, is Harmful to the climate due to the vast amount of energy consumed during its production. The once hailed all-rounder of modern architecture has lost its glory. So, what could be the other alternatives?

The exhibition “Building with mushroom, tree, clay” explores some of these alternatives. Designed by the architecture department of the Berlinische Galerie, this exhibit aims to look forward, not backward. The photo art archive of the gallery contributes to this vision by providing the starting point. Black and white series by Elisabeth Niggemeyer and Ulrich Wüst depict isolated trees, wild growth emerging from asphalt cracks, symbolizing the often conflicting relationship between nature and architecture.

Humans have always controlled growth, but this approach is no longer viable. The construction industry is responsible for 45 percent of global CO₂ emissions. The practice of continuous demolition and reconstruction is not sustainable. The exhibition poses a question: Why not collaborate with nature and utilize its offerings? Three practical examples are presented to bring this idea to life.

Rammed earth can be reused

Upon entering the exhibition, a massive sculpture, rough and interspersed with small pebbles, blocks the path. This is an example of rammed earth, a technique explained by specialist Martin Rauch. He emphasizes that no waste is created during demolition since the material can be reused or returned to the earth without causing any harm.

Rauch explains that it doesn’t matter whether the earth is rammed by hand or machine, the end product is the same. He tested this theory in Berlin with the Reconciliation Chapel. The original plan was to build the church with reinforced concrete and glass. However, following a heated debate, wood and compacted earth were used instead of concrete.

Berlin collective MY-CO-X has built a mushroom house out of octagonal modules.

© Birch Weber

Rauch says that his project is a beacon, demonstrating that rammed earth is a sustainable and versatile building material. The Chapel of Reconciliation is a testament to this, being the first building in over 100 years to use this method.

Mix of igloo and dragon tail

The Pilzhaus offers a more experimental approach to construction. The structure, built by Berliner Kollektiv MY-CO-X, looks like a mix of an igloo and a dragon tail. The house, made of octagonal modules, gives off a smell of straw and forest.

The lightweight material used for the Insulation panels is created by allowing a fungus to overgrow hemp fibers. The dense mushroom mycelium acts as a natural glue. The process takes two weeks, after which the fungus is killed by heating everything to 70 degrees.

Trees also hold potential as building materials. They can continue to grow and live even after being used in construction. The architectural firm ludwig.schoenle proposed using hornbeams, which can grow together, in their design for the 2019 Futurium, near the main train station.

These Connections of two or more tree individuals can be crosswise or twisted. Building botany forces the trees into specific shapes, much like in baroque gardens. This could be a new form of eco-conscious neo-baroque architecture. It is clear that biodiversity in construction is necessary and a change in our thinking is crucial. Whether future houses will be made of tree, mushroom, or clay, the important thing is to start thinking differently now.

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