Courtesy of Futurescope

Courtesy of Futurescope

Situated in Hamburg, one of Germany’s largest cities is a building that could quite possibly reinvent the future of urban living. The Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, which opened its doors this month, is an energy efficient, living, and first-of-its-kind building, powered by microalgae.

BIQ’s décor is both aesthetically charming and self-serving. The walls facing northeast and northwest are painted with bright green paint, while the southwest and southeast facing walls are covered in microalgae shades, also known as bioreactor facades.

These bioreactor facades, which are filled with a mixture of microalgae and water, allow the building to produce and use its own energy. As it photosynthesizes, the microalgae growing inside the facades act as a living, breathing “bio skin”.

Each unit includes a spacious balcony, allowing inhabitants to enjoy an expansive view of Hamburg. This eye-catching structure is hard to pass by without stopping and admiring its interactive, intelligent, and sustainable architecture.

Cutting down solar gain, while simultaneously providing shade, the facades are more than just aesthetic – they are an essential element of the building. This out-of-the-ordinary energy production can be viewed from the outside of the building, and intends to make a lasting impression.

The Microalgae

Photo Courtesy of Wired

Photo Courtesy of Wired

The microalgae are constantly supplied CO2 and nutrients, and grow in the shades until they are ready for harvesting. Once harvested, it is transported to a biogas plant and fermented. As it ferments, the microalgae produces biogas, which is then used during the winter to heat the building.

Designers and engineers selected microalgae for this living building because it can produce five times more much biomass per hectare than terrestrial plants.

• During the summer, the energy produced by the microalgae is stored in 250-foot deep holes in the ground.
• Energy is stored and used in the winter to heat the building.
• The microalgae acts as an insulator, further adding to the buildings sustainability

Living in BIQ

The layout of the building places an emphasis on interconnectedness between life and work. BIQ was designed with compact living in mind. Demand for living space is constantly increasing, and available space decreases as a result. BIQ offers a solution to this dilemma.

Of the 15 apartments, two are more unconventional than the rest. Rather than having separate rooms for the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, these units give inhabitants the power to configure their living spaces based upon their demands. These “switchable rooms” follow a dwelling in demand theme.

Certain necessities of an apartment – a sink, bathroom, kitchen, and space for sleeping – are located in built-in furniture situated throughout the units. Essentially, everyday necessities determine the layout of these units. The bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom, can all be swapped based upon what the occupant needs.

Quick Facts

Location: Am Inselpark 17, 21109 Hamburg, Germany
Energy Standard: Passive House Standard
Property Size: 9,031 ft2
Size of Units: 538 – 1292 ft2

Hamburg’s Bio Intelligent Quotient building is a living, energy producing, and inhabitable work of art. Its ingenuity could spark an entirely new manner by which we design urban landscapes around the world.