'reusing posidonia' upcycles marine plant life on spanish island as building material

'reusing posidonia' upcycles marine plant life on spanish island as building material

sited on spain’s formentera island, ‘reusing posidonia’ is a climate change adaptation project financed by the european LIFE+ programme for nature conservation projects. the project, comprising a cluster of private dwellings, lies at the junction of heritage, architecture, and climate change. a team of designers and researchers work together to investigate locally sourced natural resources in their contemporary research for sustainable solutions. this cultural approach is a continuation of the architects’ typical use of traditional architecture as a precedent for construction methods rather than form. while materials offered by the small island are limited to the protected junipers and depleted sandstone, the team turned toward the grassy posidonia washing up on from the sea.

reusing posidonia
all images by josé hevia



funded by the LIFE+ programme, the architects of IBAVI tested solutions based on the recovery of eco-friendly local artisan industries, usually small families, on the island. throughout the construction of the reusing posidonia, the combined use of these available local materials with those environmentally labelled imported materials lead to the reduction of more than 60% of CO2 emissions. such materials include handmade glazed tiles, and bricks baked in biomass mortar kilns. the team comments on its use of dry posidonia as thermal insulation: ‘instead of investing in a chemical plant located 1,500 km away, we could invest the same amount in local labor, who should lay out the posidonia to dry under the sun and compact it by hand. sea salt acts as natural biocide and is completely environmentally friendly.’

reusing posidonia



each dwelling within ‘reusing posidonia’ is organized with two street facades capturing the main sea breezes to the north and east. this orientation both passively cools the interior during the summer and divides each volume into two separate blocks. each facade features an arrangement of cables which serve to facilitate the growth of deciduous climbing plants. during the winter months, passive climate control relies on low-temperature radiators fed by a 90 kW centralized biomass boiler. each dwelling has exchangers that provide individual consumption readings.

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project info:


project name: life reusing posidonia

location: formentera, islas baleares, spain

design team: carles oliver barceló, antonio martín procopio, joaquín moyá costa, alfonso reina ferragut, maria antònia garcías roig, architects at the balearic social housing institute (IBAVI)

client: IBAVIand LIFE + programme

LIFE project manager: carles oliver, sandra villamarín

collaborators: Mª del mar amengual, nus, miquel ramon

surveyors: alberto rubido, xim torrebella (works economic management) + josé luís velilla lon (execution management)

environmental consultants: societat orgànica +10SCCL

project area: 1,089 m2

photography: josé hevia

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