The Materials Book

271 floors that need no covering. You think to yourself that it should look and smell like a barn, yet somehow it feels more like an inviting bedroom, or even a museum. It’s nicer than any building you’ve ever been in before. And it’s not a hand-built house in the woods. It’s a new downtown office building, nine stories high, full of people and filling half a city block. It gathers all the power and water it needs from the sky, it is elegantly lit by daylight, and it processes all its own water and waste into soil for the courtyard gardens. And, though you can’t see it, its construction put thousands of tons less carbon into the air than structures built a decade earlier, and even pulled hundreds more out of the air to serve as the walls, floors, and roof. “The primary task of any good teaching is not to answer your questions, but to question your answers.” Adyashanti, The Way of Liberation Imagine You walk into a brand new building and immediately sense that something is different. The structure is made entirely of exposed wood—the columns, beams, and roof are great curving slabs of timber elegantly joined together. The skin and insulation—which you can also see—are straw, bound into shapes that shield from the rain and insulate the walls. The foundation is soil from the site transformed by invisible microbes into a strong concrete that holds everything up; on top of this are warm, leatherlike Building to Cool the Climate: The New Carbon Architecture Bruce King