Keep an eye on these up-and-coming sustainable materials – they may just represent the future of building.
While plastic itself has been around since the early 1900s, only recently have architects begun designing buildings using recycled plastic. There are many ways recycled plastic can be incorporated into buildings, from decking made of pre-fabricated plastic modules to entire bricks made of melted-down plastic. Constructing buildings with recycled plastic is a good choice as the material is earthquake and fire-resistant, and has strong structural integrity overall. The material can also be sourced cheaply and is a constructive way to address the world’s ever-growing waste problem.
Mycelium are root-like fibres of fungi which grow underground, holding together much of the planet’s topsoil. When dried, Mycelium turns into a strong, water-resistant and fire-resistant material. One of the material’s biggest proponents, mycologist Philip Ross has found that Mycelium can be grown and moulded into building blocks of various shapes that are completely organic and compostable, yet stronger than concrete.
Ferrock is a concrete technology based on iron carbonate that uses almost entirely recycled materials to create an alternative to concrete that is less expensive, stronger, more flexible and carbon negative. According to David Stone, who accidentally discovered the material while working on his PhD in environmental chemistry, the material does not emit CO2 as it dries, but rather absorbs and binds it. It also becomes even stronger when exposed to salt water, making it ideal for coastal buildings or marine structures.
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