As housing becomes more expensive around the world and the health of the planet becomes increasingly at risk, more scientists, architects, and engineers are looking at ways to redefine housing. Renewable energy sources and ways to live “off the grid” are at the top of many people’s minds. In some places in the world, the ability to live without being connected to a power grid is not just important, it’s necessary.
In Morocco, a team of independent architects have built an eco-building that beautifully combines sustainable materials with renewable solar energy to make a truly independent, off-the-grid building.
Sunimplant: Morocco’s Off-Grid Solar Building
A team of independent architects and experts have come together from Morocco and Germany. These organizations included The Moroccan Adrar Nouh Cooperative, Marocco’s National School of Architecture and The National School of Applied Sciences, and The Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics in Germany. Together they have designed an eco-home that runs entirely on solar power. (1)
The twist? The building is made entirely of hemp. (1)
“The challenge was to create a hemp composite using organic bio-resins and avoiding technical fibres or synthetic components. The eco-building is ahead of its time and reflects a turning point not only in North Africa, but also in hemp construction, which does not have comparable prototypes in the world,” Monika Brümmer, the German architect and co-founder of Adrar Nouh who led the project, explained. “Although the building was designed to stimulate rural development, the technology also has applications in urban areas,” (1)
Adrar Nouh is a cooperative that promotes the use of indigenous hemp stalks for rural development and sustainable employment in the Moroccan Haut-Rif. (1)
The building has been named Sunimplant. The concept for it belongs to a group of Moroccan students who presented the idea at the World Solar Decathlon Africa 2019. This is a biennial international competition organized by Morocco’s Solar Energy and New Energies Research Centre, the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and the Environment and the United States Department of Energy. (1)
The competition challenges students to design buildings that (1):
- Are powered by renewable energy
- Are affordable and resilient
- Prioritize the health of the building’s occupants
Specifics of Sunimplant
This off-grid solar building is as unique as it is remarkable. The design is truly creative and really highlights what it means to be sustainable.
Characteristics of the building include (1):
- 90 square meters
- Double-skinned facade
- Large adobe walls made of local hemp, earth, pozzolana, and lime
- The outside walls use biocomposites that incorporate hemp fibers produced using vacuum injection technology.
- It is spherical and aerodynamic
- Has 24 semi-flexible photovoltaic panels
- These panels are located on all sides of the structure to maximize sun exposure
- Curved biocomposite panels made of hemp wood are also installed to protect the PV panels against the extreme weather conditions of the region.
- The infrastructure is equipped with high-performance glazing.
The total cost of the building was about $120,000, which is approximately half of the price it costs to build a standard building. (1)
Building for the future
Sunimplant is redefining development and innovative employment in Africa. Their goal is to change the way people think about building and development and build a better, more sustainable future for Africa and for the rest of the world. (2)
To read more about their project, visit sunimplant.com.
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