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Architects looking to use energy from waste to create 'Kew of the North'

Architects are looking at using heat from energy from waste to help transform brownfield sites into eco-rainforests.

The architectural firm behind the Eden Project, Grimshaw, has been commissioned to look at creating a botanical visitor attraction, on a potential site in the north. It would be a landscaped park containing a waterfall and greenhouse with tropical plant and animal life.

But Grimshaw say the concept can be applied to any waste treatment site and has wide applications, unrestricted to visitor attractions.

The proposals include constructing 50 metre-high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes. For most of the year the building would be heated by solar energy but in the winter months would use heat exchange tubes to create the warm, tropical climate.

Grimshaw director Michael Pawlyn said the concept would be able to handle most of the green waste from a city the size of Manchester. The plans to use sustainable architecture include building walls from inert waste and insulating them using recycled paper, as well as using recycled glass where possible. Pawlyn said the idea was to create a man-made system that imitated a natural one.

The brief to create a carbon-neutral greenhouse triggered the architects to draw inspiration from the pineapple sheds at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, which allowed exotic fruit and vegetables to be grown using heat from manure. Another influence was the Green Business Network’s cardboard to caviar project. This fed sturgeon fish on worms from compost created by waste cardboard - a closed loop system that created a high-value product from low-value waste.

Pawlyn said: “We wanted to scale up the idea of the pineapple sheds, and turn a problem into an opportunity.”

Grimshaw are currently waiting for funding to take the project forward to the next stage, which would be a proper feasibility study. If successful, it would then secure a site.



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