Posting in Architecture
MELBOURNE -- At the Greenhouse restaurant, urine is harvested to create power. Is this the future of dining?
MELBOURNE -- Designed by Dutch-born Joost Bakker, the Greenhouse project proves that a waste free restaurant is achievable.
As part of this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival program, the Greenhouse uses the by-products of agriculture for insulation and energy and is made from materials that are completely and easily recycled, natural and non-toxic.
All electricity in the building is generated and fueled by pure, unrefined canola oil, and in a world first, urine will be collected from purpose-built lavatories to be used as soybean and canola crop fertilizer.
Urine may seem an unorthodox energy source, but it is actually a great source of fertilizer when diluted. According to Bakker, “Urine is incredible for nitrogen, it’s so valuable -- you only need the urine of 25 people to provide fertilizer for a hectare of crop.”
The Greenhouse employs the unique Productive Building System, devised by Baker himself (patent pending); the restaurant utilizes light gauge steel for its frame, making an incredibly strong and naturally termite resistant building that is 100% recyclable.
Wall cladding and structural bracing is fitted in ECO-ply plywood, and the glue is made entirely from soybeans -- a first in the building world. At the end of its life, the plywood can be recycled into chipboard or wafer board.
Transported in and made from five 12-meter reclaimed shipping containers, the Greenhouse building can quickly be assembled or dismantled when and where required.
The building is insulated with locally sourced straw bales (one of the world's largest waste products) which is wedged into the walls, floor and ceiling.
Bakker has created the MgO board (magnesium oxide board) impregnated with biochar which allows the Greenhouse to store carbon within its walls. The MgO is a strong, environmentally friendly building material that is one tenth the carbon footprint of fiber cement sheet.
As with the past three Geenhouse restaurants, Joost utilizes sustainable ideas in all aspects of the building, from food sourcing and production, through to architecture, building materials and furniture design.
“I have designed the restaurant in reverse. I’ve started at the end; assessing the waste production, and worked back from there," Joost Bakker said. "My dream has always been to build a restaurant that creates no waste and now I think I have achieved it!”
The restaurant's menu is based on seasonal and locally available food. Wheat used in bread, dough, pasta and pastries is freshly milled onsite (a healthier alternative to store-bought wheat products), and butter and yoghurt are made fresh from organic milk and cream delivered from a local dairy farm.
All kitchen waste is organic and composted onsite using a JoraForm in-vessel composter; the compost is used to maintain the rooftop garden.
Even the restaurant's unbleached baking paper and plantation-timber cutlery can be processed through the composter.
Photo: Earl Carter.
Mar 3, 2012
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Where is your urine going! We pee in a bucket our new digester loves it yum yum gas gas burn burn flower plant a tree. I love to wee and poo too...
What the green thumbers forget is, that humans consume large amounts of salt, which then is excreted in their urine. Salt happens to be deadly to most plants and you will need to remove the salt from human urine first, by reverse osmosis perhaps, before it can be safely used as fertilizer.
In the old days, when gunpowder was the most powerful explosive, the English government employed "petermen" to visit places where urine was voided, and scrape potassium nitrate from the walls. The "peter", by the way, is probably a reference to the name "saltpetre". This is information that I found in "The Alchemy of Air" which details other connections between food, energy, and warfare. But I still conclude that nationally owned nuclear breeder reactors are the only way to supply energy enough even to feed a world population up 7,000 million and growing.
It doesn't look like it is made from shipping containers. How do you transport a container in a container? As far as generating electricity, would solar panels be acceptable? There is a lot of sun in Oz. Alternatively for hot water, put a shallow tank all over the roof. As it absorbs heat, it would keep the interior cooler during the day, and release that heat at night. Hot water could be drawn off for washing up the dishes!
It's great seeing people make sustainability a key factor in their business. I'm sure the food tastes great! I've always preferred fresh anyday, and that sounds like the place to be. Cheers guys! Juan Miguel Ruiz GreenJoyment.com
The construct of food miles is still being debated. http://upclose.unimelb.edu.au/episode/179-reaping-what-we-sow-agriculture-s-role-climate-change
Salt is deadly only in too high a concentration. Not just sodium chloride; plant nutrients are also taken up by plants in the form of salts. Too much fertilizer kills plants in the same way as sodium chloride does - high concentrations of any salts in the soil suck water out of the plant roots by osmosis. The sodium content of urine is not really that high, the high nitrogen content would burn plant roots if too much was applied rather than the sodium salts. That's why it has to be diluted.
Al, is it possible that petre got its name from the male peter, and not the other way around? Pretty funny if you think about it. Saltpeter from the peter. I guess it would be impractical for women to supply the urine because they had to use pisspots and throw it out the window.
Hi, thanks for your comment. The Greenhouse shown here is for Sydney. At the time this article was written, no photos for the Melbourne Greenhouse was available. The construction of the Melbourne Greenhouse can be viewed in this time-lapse video: http://byjoost.com/2012/02/building-the-greenhouse-in-time-lapse/ You might also find this fact sheet on the Greenhouse useful: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/uploads/2012-events/greenhouse-by-joost/HowDoesItWork.pdf
sit the other way round on the pissoir, i.e., with the back towards the pissoir and there you are! It's like sitting in a 'pot' where the pissoir is specially designed for female butts and the urine flows into the tank for collection.
Because you can't get Plutonium from a Thorium Reactor, neutron densities and energies are to low. It was that demand for weapons grade Plutonium that but all the R&D into enriched Uranium reactors in the 40's and 50's. Utlities just did the cheap way of sizing up military reactors, No R&D money required, already done to make bombs. Which is a primary reason for the long lived nuclear waste problems, to say nothing about 3 mile Island and Fucasihima. Now 70 years later and no demand for Plutonium. The R&D is trying catch up to 6 decades of military $$$ used to make bombs.