3 ideas Ltd and Buro Happold raise awareness of Palm Leaf architecture at summer workshop in southwestern France
In an age where artificial materials such as glass, steel and concrete continue to dominate the building industry, architecture practice 3 ideas Ltd and engineers Buro Happold are looking to natural elements as a viable alternative in construction. This summer, in the shadow of a grand chateau in southwestern France, Sandra Piesik of 3 ideas Ltd hosted a week-long workshop for enthusiasts from 12 countries focusing on the use of date palm leaves as a construction material.
The team managed to build a structure 10m wide by 3m high in only 7 days, following a design by Piesik and Wolf Mangelsdorf of global engineering firm Buro Happold, with palm leaves and rope as the core building materials. The workshop was part of a wider scheme called the Food Shelter Project which considers the link between wasted food and storage facilities.
As Piesik explains: “Food Shelter Project aims to serve those countries where date palm leaves are readily available as a building material, but also face the problem of food being wasted for lack of storage facilities. The aim of Food Shelter Project is to combine the best of western engineering with the best of local, eco-friendly, traditional building technologies."
The architecture industry is always looking for innovative new ways to realise ever more extravagant building projects with technology such as 3D printing currently leading the way. For Piesik her team at the Food Shelter Project, naturally-occurring building materials such as date palm leaves can be just as effective and are already available in great abundance.
In an article Piesik penned for WAN in August 2012, she details: “Looking at vernacular architecture from a perspective of an alternative resource that is available locally, with invented and tested technologies of use in building construction over thousands of years offers a tempting proposition. Well - if it worked for thousands of years can it work today? Yes - we need to work harder in re-inventing and re-introducing these ancient technologies in a contemporary way.” The campaign is sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.