ETH/FCL/EiABC/Bauhaus University conduct Workshop in Addis Ababa on Straw Panel Technology

Addis Ababa/Singapore/Zuerich April 2012

In collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC) and the Bauhaus University in Weimar, the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk Hebel at the Future Cities Laboratory Singapore, ETHZ is conducting a one-week workshop to construct a full-scale double-story building out of straw panels in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Five students of the Department of Architecture of ETH Zürich were offered the opportunity to join this international workshop, which concentrates on testing a building material, produced completely out of straw. New settlements are emerging in developing territories like Ethiopia almost every day, growing fast into urban conglomerates. One of the biggest problems in emerging cities is next to infrastructure measurements, available and affordable building materials and techniques for shelter production. The SECU (Sustainable Emerging Cities Unit) research project is focusing on the development of innovative and low-weight construction materials for emerging cities in developing territories, based on agricultural “waste” products like straw.

The company STRAWTEC© in Berlin developed over the last years a production system for pressed straw panels. Through heat, the natural starch in the straw is activated and functions as natural glue without any other chemical additions. So far, the panels are only used as non-bearing structural elements. The workshop will investigate possibilities to further develop the product and test construction methods for load bearing applications.