We are becoming used to buildings constructed from straw bales, but I just love this one which relies on absence of bales: It comes courtesy of that great website Dornob, and is of a house built by excavating a pit and then filling it with straw bales around which concrete was poured. Then a cow was imported to eat through the bales and hey presto, a new home – after clearing up somewhat I imagine.
There has been a flurry of excitement over Novacem, the CO2 absorbing concrete that has been developed at Imperial College. It sounds as if it could be fantastic – even if it does not absorb as much CO2 as it says, the fact that it is not a villain in terms of CO2 emissions will be a major step forward.
But the gap between pure research and widespread application can be a large one – and one at which this country is traditionally poorly skilled. Cost is one question, and the other major one is around versatility and performance. Will this be a niche specialist product, or will it really be able to take a large share of the market?
Here are some photos from the Villa Arson in Nice, which I visited in late September, on a heritage open day.
The extensive terraces are in the process of being restored. The building is an art school, and below the terraces are the toplit studios. There are also, set against the terrace, small apartments for visiting artists.
The magnificent external concrete, with smooth stones set in it or wonderful texture, provides a fine contrast to the board marked concrete used internally, which puts London’s Hayward Gallery to shame.