Straw and Seaweed Create Sustainable Architecture in Denmark

Building homes out of hay bales is a method that dates back to the late 1800s, but the straw and seaweed that make up Feldballe School in Rønde, Denmark look nothing like the rough, pre-industrial houses of yesteryear. The school’s 2,700-square-foot expansion, designed by Henning Larsen Architects, is modern yet organic and—more importantly—sustainable. As a biomaterial that absorbs an abundance of carbon, straw creates durable wall insulation while reducing the building’s carbon emissions. Eelgrass, a type of seaweed that often washes up on Denmark’s shores, provides another natural solution as ventilation. Its high salt content yields increased protection against fire and mold, and it even helps filter out food scents during lunch time. “It was super-important for us that it wasn’t some kind of barefoot architecture,” says Jakob Strømann, Henning Larsen’s director of sustainability and innovation. “We want to turn it from a hippie material into an industrial building product.” Learn how they did so at Fast Company.

Image by Rasmus Hjortshøj/Coast, courtesy of Henning Larson