Bioreactor façade wins Zumtobel Group Award

Sep 2014

A “living green façade” created by the design teams of Arup, Colt and SSC has won the Zumtobel Group Award for best applied innovation.

SolarLeaf, the world’s first bio-responsive façade presented at the BIQ House, has won the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 in the “Applied Innovations” category. The prototype of this innovative façade was designed by Arup in collaboration with Colt and SSC Strategic Science Consult.

SolarLeaf was specially designed for last year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg and is the world’s first pilot project showcasing a bio-responsive façade. The four-storey residential building (designed by Splitterwerk Architects) comprises 129 integrated photo-bioreactors which absorb CO2 emissions while converting natural light into biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. Photosynthesis takes place in a new generation of glass photo-bioreactors, installed on the southwest and southeast elevations.

The winners of the Zumtobel Award

Since commissioning this innovative façade in April 2013, it has been monitored for its technical and energy performance as well as for its acceptance with users. The intermediate results are promising: the system is generating a net energy gain. Additional research programmes are investigating the viability of full integration of the system on a larger district scale, as well as the creation of a means by which the high-value biomass may be converted into pharmaceutical and food-supplement products.

As lead consultants on the project, Arup designed the prototype in collaboration with SSC Strategic Science Consult and Colt. Our joint innovative approach means that we have delivered cutting-edge technology that holds huge potential for newly built or retro-fitted medium and large scale developments and also that makes a notable contribution to the future quality of life.

Explaining the reasons for their choice, the jury said: “In the future we need to develop buildings which don’t just offer shelter and minimise energy consumption but also try to deliver answers to how we provide the urban environment with energy, water and better air quality. The SolarLeaf façade is an outstanding example here in that it generates energy without taking up additional space. This project is especially valuable because for the first time we have an application that actually works in an existing building.”

Jan Wurm, Arup, adds “The award recognizes the exceptional sense of collaboration crossing the fields of design, building engineering and biotechnology. We believe that this kind of teamwork is required to shape the future of our built environment.”

Lukas Verlage, Colt, says “Technology meets biology in the bioreactor façade: this development marks a new era of construction. Colt is delighted that SolarLeaf has won the prestigious Zumtobel Award.”

The Zumtobel Group Award – Innovations for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment – is an architectural award for the promotion of sustainability and humanity in the built environment. The event was held on 22 September 2014 at The Serpentine Gallery London and showcased another four finalists under the same category including “Bamboo Reinforced Concrete”, “The Lowline”, “Kone UltraRope” and the “Re-Innovation of Rammed Earth by Prefabrication”.

Notes to Editors

1. The bio-reactor was developed by three partners: SSC Strategic Science Consult of Germany (bioreactor technology), the international design consultant, Arup (concept design, coordination and engineering) and Colt International (reactor design).

2. The BIQ house was designed by SPLITTERWERK Architects of Graz in Austria and is one of the houses set to showcase smart materials as part of the IBA Hamburg exhibition.

3. The façade development was supported by the German research initiative “ZukunftBau” of the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

4. SolarLeaf was shortlisted from 356 submissions by an international expert jury that includes the architects Kunlé Adeyemi, Yung Ho Chang, Winy Maas and Kazuyo Sejima; Brian Cody, Chair of the Institute of Buildings and Energy, Graz University of Technology (AT); Ulrich Schumacher, CEO Zumtobel Group and Rainer Walz, Head of Competence Center Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems, Fraunhofer ISI Karlsruhe (DE).

About Arup

Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. From 90 offices in 39 countries worldwide 11,000 planners, designers, engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world.

About Colt

Since 1931 Colt has been harnessing the natural elements to provide healthy, comfortable and safe working and living conditions in buildings. Colt is a specialist in smoke control, climate control and HVAC systems, industrial ventilation and solar shading, with a presence in more than 50 countries.

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