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Column: Circular circus

23 October 2021

6 min. to read

Exploded View © Max Kneefel
Everything this DDW is about, comes together in The Exploded View Beyond Building. From a nature-inclusive way of building to an antidote to digital volatility. But above all: design as repayment for what has been done to Mother Earth.

Column by Jeroen Junte | 

For too long, we have taken Mother Earth for granted. Deep scars are everywhere in the landscape, from the subsiding soil in Groningen to the marlstone excavations in Limburg. And that's just the Netherlands. Things must change. And it can be done differently. Take Klaaiklút in the Bio Art Lab. This is research into the natural dyeing of textiles with local clay from Friesland. By incorporating the hidden, deep colours of the landscape in everyday products such as duvet covers or curtains, our bond with the landscape is strengthened. 

That is exactly what Dutch-Italian designer Steffie de Gaetano of Foundation We Are aims for with her eye-catching photo prints Permeance. In an abstract colour composition, she visualizes the soil pollution of the local Brabant river De Dommel. After more than a century of discharges from local ore melters, the river bottom is heavily polluted. De Gaetano uses the same cadmium and zinc for her prints - after all, beauty is a powerful weapon against ugliness and filth.

Everywhere at DDW, designers are turning their attention to the most rudimentary of raw materials: the soil itself. The Van Slib naar Tegel project by designers Lotte de Raadt & Kirstie van Noort investigates the application of iron sludge, a natural residue of water extraction, in ceramic products. For a pump building of Brabant Water they are working with Koninklijke Tichelaar Makkum on a wall of 10,000 tiles in which more than 1,000 litres of iron sludge is processed. Design as repayment for what has been done to the earth.

Not only clay, mud or silt, but also fungi, eggs and other food waste have been used to build The Exploded View Beyond Building. And algae, seaweed, cork and 100 more of these circular and biobased raw materials.  Like a beacon of hope and progress, this life-size house stands in the middle of Strijp-S, which, this year more than any other, is the undisputed centre of DDW. And this sustainable explosion of material innovation is the undisputed centrepiece of this event.

This house is actually more of a library to wander through - exactly as DDW ambassador Floris Alkemade suggested with his labyrinth. The search for a society that is not based on always wanting more is also fun and exciting, where the senses are stimulated. Everywhere there are materials to look at, feel and smell. Mirror smooth bamboo veneer or a rough floor made of recycled brick. Atmospheric lamps made of bacteriological foil or the earthy tones of reed. The smell of plants and wood. Various building techniques are presented - from 3D printing to Japanese carpentry. The rooms and materials are also provided with a QR code, so you can learn more.

This instruction manual for sustainable building functions as the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building, but 'Embassy of Mother Earth' would also have been appropriate. This house with more than 100 raw materials provides an important nuance to the overarching 'from more to less' message of DDW. Because ultimately it is not about less but about greener and smarter. About better. And perhaps even more.


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Jeroen Junte schreef tijdens DDW21 8 columns. Lees zijn observaties, ontdek de trends en herbeleef DDW21 door zijn ogen.

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