Architecture, Lebanon, Recycled house, Sustainability, Sustainable architecture

Lebanese architect creates home from recycled materials that generates electricity

A project to build a home made from recycled materials which also generates its own electricity has been unveiled by Lebanese architect Nizar Haddad.

Lifehaus homes include a greenhouse for growing food, solar panels for generating renewable energy, sustainable water use through rainwater collection and grey water reuse.

And it comes at a price of around half the average cost of an unfurnished Lebanese home, which is around $800 per square meter, said the designers.

The project is also aimed at tackling three of the country’s most pressing issues – over-demand for building materials which is stripping the natural landscape, lack of power and water for homes and a crisis in mounting garbage.

“Lebanon’s construction industry is one of the leading factors behind desertification in the country,” said a spokeswoman for the design team.

“Entire hills and mountains are being turned into wastelands as demand for conventional buildings continues to rise. Also, with Lebanon being a post-war country, successive governments, since 1990, and up until now have been and continue to be unable to provide many of the country’s citizens with round-the-clock water and electricity – so this got us thinking of going off the grid.”

Lebanon historically has an issue with rubbish collection due to inadequate infrastructure provision. This came to a head in 2015 when two large collection dumps were closed.

Waste collection then ceased, causing protests in the streets and a huge build up- of trash causing a major health hazard, particularly in Beirut. The situation has been partially resolved – but at the expense of using the Mediterranean Sea as a repository for untreated waste

Lifehaus says it treats that rubbish as valuable by incorporating recycled materials in the dwellings and allowing for composting organic trash for use in the garden as fertiliser.

The spokeswoman said:  “As garbage was left on the streets for months at a time, we felt that we could no longer wait and so dedicated ourselves fully to Lifehaus.”

Passive design keeps a Lifehaus cool in the summer and warm in the winter and the homes can be partially buried, which helps them be more earthquake-resistant and minimises energy loss.

Lifehaus is drawing on ancestral building techniques, such as using mud and clay as opposed to concrete, and treating those materials with linseed oil and lime. Construction on the first 1,722 square foot prototype is now underway in Baskinta, Lebanon.

“Now is the time for the human species to reconcile with nature. Our collective lifestyles are no longer sustainable,” the design team, said. “The Lifehaus is not just about building a house, it’s about community and communication. We hope to reinforce the feeling of being in a community and communicating a strong message that yes, we can all make a change no matter how dark the world seems.”

This year’s Beirut Design Week also tackled some social and political issues that are currently prevalent in Lebanon, and particularly in Beirut itself.  Projects include Annabel Karim Kassar (AKK) Architects’ restoration of a nineteenth century Ottoman mansion in Beirut, with an aim to preserve the city’s architectural past; architects Roula Salamoun and Ieva Saudargaite’s installation that tackles the recent international concerns with security and travel; and Nathalie Harb’s The Silent Room installation that looks to isolate visitors from Beirut’s dense urban environment.