GXN and Arup receive JEC Innovation Award 2015 for BioBuild

The JEC Innovation Awards

The JEC Company is a non-profit association that is dedicated to the promotion of composites. Once a year they honor the most innovative composite solutions worldwide with the JEC Innovation Awards.

“I am very happy to see this collaborative effort between engineers, architects, materials specialists and manufacturers come through, it shows the strength of cross disciplinary innovation. Realizing these designs show a way for change towards the use of regenerative materials, where natural materials can replace conventional construction materials such as aluminum, steel, brick and concrete”
- Kasper Guldager Jensen, Director of GXN

Biocomposites for buildings

The design is the world’s first self-supporting façade panel for building construction made of biocomposites that reduces the embodied energy in façade systems by up to 50 percent compared to conventional construction materials with no increase in cost. It has been designed by GXN innovation and Arup materials as part of the BioBuild project. Apart from the award winning façade system, building kits for rainscreen systems, internal partition walls and suspended ceilings have been designed and tested within the BioBuild consortium funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.

Future materials are grown

The BioBuild project aims to shape a better built environment by developing and using innovative materials based on natural rapidly renewable resources. Biocomposites are composed of natural fibers such as flax, hemp and jute, and natural resins made from the byproduct of agricultural processing of corn, sugar cane and other crops. With the appropriate processing, they can be converted into lightweight, durable and high performing products that improve the sustainability of building systems.

Prefabricated, High-Performance Façade System

Developed primarily for commercial office buildings, the façade panel is 4.0 meters high and 2.3 meters wide and comprises a glazing unit. It is composed of two biocomposite outer shells, made of flax fabric and bio derived resin, with a central layer of insulation material. The panel is delivered to site as a fully prefabricated unit.

The facetted geometry follows a parametric approach to optimize the energy efficiency of the building. The overhanging top part of the panel can vary depending on its location and orientation. It provides shading and therefore reduces cooling loads. Because of the low thermal conductivity of the biocomposite materials, the integral shading devices allow for excellent overall thermal performance. The BioBuild team specifically developed the façade system to met the stringent thermal, structural and fire performance requirements of building codes in Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom and Spain.

Central for the design has been a life cycle design approach. All parts of the system can be easily detached from each other, and either be recycled or reused at the end of the life cycle.

“This innovative product pushes the boundaries of both facade and materials engineering towards new targets by using biocomposites in an extremely demanding sector of construction. The design freedom of biocomposites can generate a strong impact on the appearance of buildings.”
- Guglielmo Carra, Arup Materials

About the BioBuild consortium

The “Bio Build Facade System in Biocomposites” is a product development of the BioBuild project, a collaborative project involving 13 partners from seven European countries. These companies are ACCIONA Infrastructures (Spain), Amorim Cork Composites (Portugal), Arup Deutschland (Germany), Exel Composites (UK), Fiber-Tech Construction (Germany), GXN Innovation (Denmark) Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe Kaiserslautern (Germany), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Laboratorio Nacional De Engenharia Civil (Portugal), NetComposites (UK), SHR (Netherlands), Nederlandse Organisatie voor Togepast TNO (Netherlands).

Read more about BioBuild here

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