House Made Out of Seaweed in Denmark

By Peter Sarmas on 27 Sep 2013
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Energy-efficient house design has become more and more appealing to Australians across the country.

With the ever increasing cost of energy prices, it’s little wonder why.

But when it comes to sustainable home design, Denmark is leading the way with its innovative use of a completely natural yet widely overlooked resource for building insulation. Seaweed!

The House

This incredibly eco-friendly house located on the small island of Laeso in Denmark is made of a simple wooden structure with seaweed-stuffed timber frames. An insulating layer of seaweed covers the entire outside of the 100 square metre house.

The ceiling has been padded with wool knitted pillows stuffed with seaweed and upholstered with linen fabric.

“Renewable seaweed insulated homes could be the next big thing in the way of sustainable home design.

Designed to accommodate eight occupants (or two families), the holiday home style house features a large central family room with kitchen, as well as additional living space at both ends of the house and raised loft beds for any extra guests.

The house is expected to have the same lifespan as any other house, and although a significant amount of seaweed has been used in the building, there is no specific extra maintenance needed.

The Architect

The house was build by Danish architectural firm Vandkundsten, who teamed up with Realdania Byg with the intention of building a sustainable energy efficient house with the use of eco-friendly building materials.

Senior Vandkunsten architect Soren Nielsen wanted the house to be an example of how it was possible to incorporate renewable organic material into construction, and how such useful low carbon materials are often overlooked.

Benefits of Seaweed

So of all materials, why seaweed? According to the architects, the use of seaweed as insulation when paired with a wooden construction brings the carbon footprint of the building down to an impressively low level.

The combination makes for an extremely energy efficient house, because due to the high insulation thickness, airtight assembly, heat recovering system, heat-pump, and low energy windows, the house is only expected to consume 20 kWh/year/square metre – meaning that it conforms with the strictest standards for low energy buildings in the country.

One of the other benefits of this sustainable home design is that seaweed is actually an extremely sturdy material, and contrary to what you might expect, doesn’t rot, mould, or attract any pests.

In the event that plants and birds do eventually inhabit the roof as it may do over time as part of its weathering, a solid layer of roofing felt has been included below the seaweed thatching to ensure its long lasting quality.

History of Seaweed Houses

This sustainable home design isn’t actually the first of its kind – seaweed homes were once commonplace on the island of Laeso.

During the 19th century, hundreds of homes that used seaweed in construction could be found there – it was a building tradition.

Currently, there are only twenty of the original seaweed homes remaining as a tribute to the unique architectural history of the island.

The eco-friendly house and land cost €268,000 (US$345,000); however, the architects involved expect that a similar home could be built on the mainland of Denmark for approximately ten percent less.

Renewable seaweed insulated homes could be the next big thing in the way of sustainable home design.

About the Author

Peter Sarmas is a Certified Property Investment Advisor (PIAA) and Vendor/Buyer Advocate. Before becoming the founder of Street News, Peter completed a Degree in Applied Science (Chemistry) and a Graduate Diploma in Property Valuations (Hons). Peter believes property investing is a major and potentially risky undertaking. In his view, everyone should have an independent person acting on their behalf when seeking property investment advice.

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