• The BIQ house at Hamburg's International Building Exhibition will be home to the first-ever building with a façade bioreactor.
    The BIQ house at Hamburg's International Building Exhibition will be home to the first-ever building with a façade bioreactor.
A zero-energy house under construction in Germany is set to provide the first real-life test for a new façade system that uses live micro-algae to provide shade and generate renewable energy at the same time.

The world’s first bio-adaptive façade will be installed in the BIQ House for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, which runs through 2013. The concept is designed so that algae in the bio-reactor façades grow faster in bright sunlight to provide more internal shading. The bio-reactors not only produce biomass that can subsequently be harvested, but they also capture solar thermal heat; both energy sources can be used to power the building.

In practice, this means that photosynthesis is driving a dynamic response to the amount of solar shading required, while the micro-algae growing in the glass louvers provide a clean source of renewable energy. Once completed in March 2013, the BIQ house will allow scientists, engineers, and builders to assess the full potential of the system as a green alternative providing dynamic solar shading alongside sustainable, renewable energy.

  • The façade of bioreactors uses photosynthesis to generate micro-algae, which are harvested and converted to biomass for energy generation. The process creates a shimmering green façade for the building and fuel for generating sustainable, renewable energy.
    The façade of bioreactors uses photosynthesis to generate micro-algae, which are harvested and converted to biomass for energy generation. The process creates a shimmering green façade for the building and fuel for generating sustainable, renewable energy.
The shading louvres for the BIQ house in Hamburg are being fabricated in Germany by Colt International on the basis of bio-reactor concept and design work led by the international design consultant, Arup, in cooperation with SSC Strategic Science Consult of Germany.

“To use bio-chemical processes for adaptive shading is a really innovative and sustainable solution so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario,” says Arup’s Europe research leader, Jan Wurm. “As well as generating renewable energy and providing shade to keep the inside of the building cooler on sunny days, it also creates a visually interesting look that architects and building owners will like.”