Building material alternatives are some of the most exciting things to write about – celebrating innovation that seeks to minimise our impact on the planet, and work for the benefit of non-human creatures is a pleasure that is thankfully becoming ever more common.
In a research project from the Indian School of Design and Innovation in Mumbai aimed at developing healthy and environmentally friendly building materials, a new alternative to concrete has been created. Headed by Shreyas More and Meenal Sutaria, the project acts as an extension of biophillic design (human connection with nature) which they describe as providing spaces in which humans thrive, being generally happier and more productive.
These Green Charcoal bricks are made out of soil and organic luffa fibres (from loofahs), as well as cement and charcoal. They are extraordinarily lightweight due to the use of the luffa fibres which offer a network of air pockets in which animal and plant life can flourish. These numerous gaps also mean that the bricks are up to 20 times more porous (and over 4% lighter) than traditional concrete.
In warm environments the holes act as “thousands of tiny water tanks” which reduce the temperature of the bricks, and provide a built-in cooling system. Charcoal is used in small amounts to absorb nitrates, pollutants, and impurities and purify the air. These bricks therefore not only serve as an eco-alternative to concrete, but work to benefit societies through cleaner air and temperature control.
Due to their lightweight nature, the Green Charcoal bricks do not require metal reinforcement, and use only a fraction of the aggregate, sand, and cement that the equivalent concrete would need. The team are currently exploring a variety of materials to act as surface treatments in order for the bricks to promote their use in multiple environments.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, March 2020.