Photography: Henny van Belkom
Pioneering with new biobased building materials from wet agriculture
Since the Middle Ages, peat areas in the Netherlands have been "dewatered" for
agriculture and housing by means of canals, ditches and drainage. Because peat soils
settle in contact with oxygen, the soil beneath our feet has decreased significantly over the centuries. In recent years, this process has accelerated due to global warming, which is slowly but surely causing major problems: houses are subsiding, the soil is becoming salinized and, bitterly enough, the release of enormous amounts of extra greenhouse gas.
An important means of combating land subsidence is to raise water levels. However,
this makes the cultivation of many traditional crops impossible. But there are
alternatives, such as cattail and reed, which can be processed into bio-based building
materials. Because building with these types of materials is still in its infancy, and the
demand for them is therefore limited, the Veenweide Innovation Center (VIC) and the
province of South Holland have commissioned us to investigate their potential in
practice. The first result is a mobile, pure cabin, in which experiments with cattail,
mycelium hemp and black alder were carried out.
In this process it has once again become clear to us that today, within tight production chains, architecture can (again) connect much more with the landscape, with the ground under our feet. Designing and building with locally produced bio-based materials will not only create healthy homes, but will breathe new life into outdated spatial systems. For us, herein lies the fun and meaning of our profession.
Arthur van der Lee
Liberté Tiny Houses
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven
Stichting Wetland Products
timber frame (pine, douglas)
clay plaster, bio laminate