Lava Might Be The Stuff Tomorrow’s Homes Are Made Of!

Innovative designers are excited about the potential of natural volcanos.

Jun 2, 2022
Lava Might Be The Stuff Tomorrow’s Homes Are Made Of! | Innovative designers are excited about the potential of natural volcanos.

Everyone knows the classic tale of the three little pigs; one builds his house from straw, another fwith sticks and the third using bricks. All but the brick home fall to the wrath of the big bad wolf, teaching the lesson that hard work pays off the most. But what if one of the little pigs built their home from lava, could that stand the test against the big bad blows? Here’s the good news!

After years of research and hard work, Icelandic architect, Arnhildur Pálmadótti, is determined to find a sustainable solution to building homes and her idea is hot.

She plans to build homes from the country’s abundant natural resource, lava, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of construction and help save the environment, according to Fast Company.

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Construction materials help drive global CO2 emissions
According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the buildings and construction sector were responsible for 36 percent of final energy use and the 39 percent process-related release of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2018. This mostly comes from the manufacturing of building materials like steel, cement and glass and CO2 emission is only predicted to grow more. 

This worrying data has prompted many architects and developers to seek out materials that have a lower carbon footprint including architect Arnhildur Pálmadóttir who has chosen to use locally-sourced materials, particularly molten lava from Iceland’s multitude of volcanoes. 

Lavaforming is more sustainable than concrete and steel
At this year’s DesignMarch festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, Pálmadóttir and her architectural firm, SAP announced their radical idea of using “lavaforming”, or the molten rock issued from a volcano, as an alternative building material for homes, according to Deezen architecture and design magazine. 

"Lava is the building material of the earth, but instead of letting landscapes form naturally over millions of years we can take over Earth's building process and produce a whole city for humans in a few weeks," Palmadottir told Dezeen.  "It would mean that we have a sustainable source of building materials that can itself also produce the energy needed to handle and process it."

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The future is bright for lava homes
Iceland doesn’t have many natural resources beyond its plenitude of stone and lava fields which led the architect and her team to focus on lavaforming. However, the next challenge her team faced was how to harness the molten lava. 

Volcanic eruptions occur about every five years in Iceland according to the Icelandic Government, and the architects envision that trenches could be pre-dug to collect the flowing lava after an eruption happens according to Fast Company. The amassed lava would then turn to solid rock and the adjacent soil could be dug out around the trenches creating walls from the molten. 

If the volcanoes don’t erupt, the architects have proposed drilling deep down into pockets of fiery magma below the volcano’s surface to extract the lava themselves to be molded into bricks or even used in 3D printing material to make bricks.

While the architects aren’t sure if they will see their idea come to fruition during their lifetime because of the years it will take to dig, collect and develop the lava building materials, they hope that one day, future generations will enjoy lava cities. And just like the third pig who toiled on his home, it will be worth the wait. 

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Yael has a passion for research and discovery and devoted her studies to science. She is fascinated by anything technology related and how it can improve people’s lives. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, swimming and storytelling.