Temporal.haus is a community built of wood and straw
The theme of this year’s Venice Architettura Biennale is “How will we live together? Andrew Michler of Hyperlocal Workshop answered this question with Temporal.haus, a reception base for climate refugees from Central America, offered for Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.
According to Michler, we are facing what will be the largest human migration in history due to climate change. He tells Treehugger, “The point of this is to wrap us around climate refugees – how do we deal with this massive change in human habitation?
As a backdrop, Michler quotes a New York Times / ProPublica essay – “Where will everyone go?” – which describes the crisis, where millions of people may be on the move, many of them coming to the United States.
Historically, many immigrants set up businesses such as restaurants or stores and live behind or above the store. Temporal.haus is a multi-unit version of this historic model, designed with single or couple apartments on the lower floors with families above. There is also a community kitchen, classrooms and the roof is used as an open school protected by a solar canopy.
But living above the restaurant doesn’t work as well as it used to; food trucks are a good alternative. “Brick-and-mortar is no longer a viable solution for many small food companies who have chosen to step up their efforts.” Instead, residents live in a facility that supports the food truck scene in Los Angeles.
“The ever-evolving collection of independent food trucks rely on shaded areas for eating, queuing, restrooms, and is complemented by a small bar. A commissary kitchen supports food trucks as well as residents of building that can grow their own food based business or support rotating trucks. This reclaiming of the sidewalk and tarmac strips of Wilshire Boulevard, ironically the birthplace of the modern mall, humanizes hyperlocal economic and community engagement .
How far can the initial carbon go?
There are two types of carbon emissions that we need to worry about these days: the operational emissions that come from operating a building, but also the initial carbon emissions that come from the manufacture of building materials. construction, their transport to the site and the construction of the building. . They are the main component of what is called “incorporated carbon”.
This building is described as ‘carbon neutral and positive energy’, terms recently described in Treehugger as confusing. However, a stroll through Temporal.haus gives them new meaning.
Whenever possible, the building is constructed with natural materials that store carbon, which I called building out of the sun. Michler is known to Treehugger for his own house, built without any foam insulation and as little concrete or plastic as possible. It raises the bar considerably with Temporal.haus.
The podium floor is made of a new form of cross-laminated timber (CLT) where instead of the boards being glued together in a giant press, they are nailed together with LignoLoc wooden nails from Beck Fasteners. (Beck is a sponsor of the exhibition.)
We first saw a Lignoloc nail gun installed in an automated nailing head at Greenbuild in 2019 and wrote about it in “Why in the world would anyone want a computer driven wooden nail gun? ? ” and speculated at the time that it would make “a formidable form of mass timber.” And here we are: CLT and Glued Laminated Timber (NLT) with no glue and no metal nails that make it difficult to recycle, which anyone can make in a barn or on site. It could be the next mass timber revolution.
The walls are constructed of Ecococon prefabricated straw panels, where the straw is packaged in FSC wooden frames, seen on Treehugger here. According to Temporal.haus, the straw panels are actually fire resistant.
“The straw in the panels is compressed to a density of 110 kg / m³ (6.9 Ib / ft3), leaving no room for oxygen to fuel the fire. In addition, the straw has a high content of silica, a natural flame retardant. On combustion, the two materials create a layer of charcoal insulation on the surface that protects them from the flames. ”
The building stores a lot of carbon in these natural materials; using the new PHribbon calculator, it is estimated that it stores 554 tonnes (503 metric tonnes) of total net carbon dioxide, assuming a 60 year lifespan of the building and the wood is fully reused, a reasonable assumption since it is not full of steel nails. It assumes that solar panels are replaced every 30 years, windows every 50 years, and mechanical systems replaced every 25 years.
For those who continue to say that wood does not last as long as other materials and cannot be reused after 60 years, I note that I am sitting at a table in NLT, a piece of bowling that is probably sixty. – ten years now. And those nails you see ruined a few saw blades.
Pushing the Passivhaus casing on the operating carbon
Michler is an experienced designer from Passivhaus and worked with the Passivhaus Institut, in Darmstadt, Germany on the modeling of Temporal.Haus. Passivhaus designs reduce energy consumption with a super insulated building envelope, high quality windows, airtight construction, no thermal bridging and ventilation systems with heat recovery. Top that off with a bunch of solar panels on the walls and roof in the hot California sun and you end up with a building that produces a lot more energy than it consumes.
To benefit from the Passivhaus standard, a building cannot use more than 60 kilowatt hours per square meter per year of primary energy for all practical purposes. Thanks to its solar panels, T-Haus goes negative, -130 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year. And of course Michler calls it Positive Energy! And carbon neutral too.
“Using the PHribbon Embedded Carbon Calculator, the building’s total embedded carbon is calculated at a very low rate of 224 kg CO2 per square meter assuming reuse of the timber structure. With the removal of photovoltaic power generation from the calculation, Temporal.haus has achieved a whole net of life. carbon neutrality embodied. ”
Meanwhile, back to the Biennale …
The curator of the Biennale, Harshim Sarkis, notes that they have proposed the theme “How are we going to live together? before the pandemic hits.
“However, many of the reasons that initially led us to ask this question – the intensifying climate crisis, massive population displacements, political instabilities around the world, and growing racial, social and economic inequalities, among others – have led us to this pandemic and have become all the more relevant. We can no longer wait for politicians to come up with a path to a better future. As politics continues to divide and isolate, we can come up with alternative ways to living together through architecture.
Temporal.haus, hosted by the European Cultural Center and produced by Michler’s Hyperlocal Workshop, directly addresses the issue of population displacement with its program. It also shows how buildings can cope with the climate crisis: in terms of initial carbon, by being constructed from materials that do not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere during their manufacture or construction, and if replaced in forests and fields by replanted trees and straw, it can be said that they actually store carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
In terms of operating carbon, there is none; the building produces more energy from the sun than it consumes.
Temporal.haus addresses all of the issues raised by Sarkis, even the policies that continue to divide and isolate, recognizing the need to deal with the inevitable climate migration. It inspires, raises important questions and provides possible answers, which is exactly what a good Biennale exhibition is supposed to do.
Learn more at Temporal.haus.