Farming for Facades
The Agro & Food Cluster in New Prinsenland, Dinteloord, The Netherlands, is an interesting attempt to create a zone where agro businesses can cooperate and create ecological, economic and social synergies. A sugar plant in the region is being tapped for heat co-generation, and a bio-mass digester takes the plant waste and turns it into “green” gas for fuel, and captured CO2 that can be used to enhance growth in greenhouses.
The gas receiving station (Gasontvangst-Station in Dutch) is a square, plain-block building that has been dressed by architect Marco Vermuelen with a clever façade made of bio-composite.
The 104 cladding panels, 1.4 X 1.85 m each, are made of a bio-resin, Nabasco from NPSP Composites, Haarlem, Netherlands, a material that has been seen previously in these pages as the unibody/frame of an electric scooter. Nabasco stands for Naturally Based Composites. The resin is reinforced with hemp fiber. It is claimed to be the world’s first bio-based façade. That is unquestionably an overstatement – every grass hut in the equatorial zone of the planet can boast a bio-based façade – but it is probably the first bio-based FRP façade, and certainly the largest application of this technology that we’ve heard of.
The surface design is a collection of C’s, H’s, and N’s, standing for the three constituent elements of natural gas, Carbon, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen, and they are distributed on the façade in the appropriate proportions for the chemical formula.
(The fact that it recalls – rather vividly – a Hersey chocolate bar may be a bit disturbing for American readers, but the Dutch, with their reputation for fine chocolate, probably don’t pay much attention to Herseys.)
It is envisioned that this region will be able to transition more and more to a bio-based economy. Already, green gas is supplied to 5000 households in the area. The sugar may eventually be a source for more bio-based resins, too.