IKEA Lab Creates Algae-Producing Pavilion


In a move to promote sustainable living through algae, an IKEA innovation lab erected a temporary bioreactor dome, which was designed to produce a nutrient-rich food option and foster conversations about future living with renewable resources.

The Algae Dome, developed by Space10, the lab associated with IKEA, was a coil-tube-wrapped, wood-framed structure. Described by the lab as a "food-producing architecture pavilion," the temporary structure housed a photo-bioreactor, which is a closed system that enables high production of microalgae.

Bioreactor Dome

Earlier this month, the dome was installed at the three-day CHART Art Fair in Copenhagen, an eye-catching attraction to the potential of algae as a sustainable source of nutrition.

Currently, making microalgae production cost-effective is the largest challenge in the way of using microalgae on a global scale, followed closely by raising public awareness and engagement. The installation was step toward addressing the latter.

In collaboration with architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski and Anna Stempniewicz on the project, Space10 opted to have the dome exhibited after it had won an architectural contest run by CHART.

"Its inviting, yet enclosed form provides shelter and creates oasis for social interaction," the architects said in an interview.

The dome was wrapped in over 1,000 feet of coiled tubing, which was filled with microalgae, and was able to produce 450 liters of microalgae during the three-day event. Installation visitors could also sample crisps made with spirulina, a kind of microalgae. The food itself was created by Simon Perez, chef for Space 10.

"One of the areas we're exploring is the future of food and ways to improve the food system," Space10 noted. "We believe that algae could provide the answer to some of the world’s biggest problems—from malnutrition to climate change."

Growing Green Living

What makes the organism a proverbial “superfood” is the powerful punch of its makeup: It contains 50 times more iron than spinach, and more than twice as much protein as meat, in addition to containing vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Microalgae also has the potential to replace soy protein in animal feed, which would, in turn, help lessen deforestation that makes way for the planting of soy, and the organism can grow almost anywhere, doubling its size daily, along with converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. With the added ability to grow even in polluted water, microalgae can also be used to clean industrial wastewater.

"Microalgae could help combat malnutrition, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, help stop the destruction of the rainforest, improve air quality, and reduce pollution," Space 10 added.

"Imagine an apartment building equipped with a similar photobioreactor that not only boosted hyper-local oxygen levels but also produced spirulina that the building’s residents could use to supplement their diets."


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Color + Design; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Green design; Latin America; North America; Sustainability

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