Crazy New Building Materials

You’ve probably heard of graphene – the new super-strong carbon that’s only an atom thin. It’s so high-tech it’s only two-dimensional, and the guys behind it won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

But there’s lots of crazy new building materials coming up now – and some that aren’t so new, too.

Bamboo is a really ancient building material that’s been used in the tropics since time immemorial – yet, incredibly, is almost as strong as steel. And here on Bali there are stunning buildings arising out of bamboo: like Pod Chocolate, a chocolate factory made from bamboo, Green School, a bamboo-built school, and Green Village by it.

Still with the environment in mind, some people are trying to recycle plastic bottles as a building material: they’re another solution that’s great in hot climates. One early one is from Nigeria, which is now a tourist attraction: but the Hot Spot Design Museum in Singapore has even funkier ones, that can be built without environmentally harmful cement.

Concrete’s another material that’s very handy for buildings but not so kind to the world around us. A new alternative to concrete is hempcrete, made with hemp fibres, lime and water. It’s lighter than concrete, more pliable – and, of course, farming hemp helps capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (provided you don’t use artificial fertilizers).

So it may be three-dimensional, but it’s still pretty darn cool!