La Serre: a zero waste house that provides a plan for the future



Entirely made from organic materials and running on renewable energies, the building, known as “La Serre”, is totally zero waste. It was designed by zero waste advocate Joost Bakker as part of his Future Food System housing experience.

“The greenhouse is inspired by nature – it’s an ecosystem where nothing is wasted,” Bakker told CNN. Organic waste is introduced into a biodigester where it ferments and is transformed into gas for cooking or into fertilizer for products; rainwater is collected and used for irrigation and an aquaponics system, where plants grow using fish waste on site; and the hot steam from the shower allows a mushroom wall to thrive.

The design of the house is upside down, says Bakker, with the roof as a foundation, loaded with 35 tons of earth. This helps hold the building in place, he says, and provides fertile ground for growing produce – over 200 species of plants grow on the roof terrace, as well as insects, snails, fish, mussels. , shellfish and chickens.

The site is more than just a model home – over the past 10 months it has been a real one for Jo Barrett and Matt Stone, who were also chefs in the small hotel restaurant.

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As of January, they’ve been cooking meals three days a week (except during times when Melbourne is locked out from Covid-19), serving a multi-course menu using only what is grown on site. Imagine vegan caramel creams made from tiger nuts and honey harvested from rooftop beehives, and falafel dumplings containing crickets, for a nutritional boost.

“Being able to grow and produce food on a small footprint in the middle of town and turn it into exciting dishes is very unique,” ​​says Stone.

In November, the chefs move to make way for public tours supported by the city of Melbourne. These will include school trips and every Friday guests will be invited to cook from home.

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While the greenhouse only has a permit to stay at Federation Square in Melbourne until the end of next April, the ecosystem will live on, as the house is expected to be moved out of town, becoming a permanent home for the mother of Bakker.

Urban ecosystem

Thanks to the Greenhouse project, Bakker wanted to demonstrate that he could feed a family with his autonomous house design. “I think we’ve proven that it’s actually a lot more productive than I imagined,” he says. “We harvested 35 kilos of potatoes from one square meter.”

He hopes the example will provide a model for future homes and a viable alternative to the current food system, which is responsible for more than a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The creation of a circular system could also help to drastically reduce food waste, including 1.3 billion tonnes per year, costing the global economy $ 940 billion.

“We are the only species that generates waste. In nature, there is no waste; everything becomes a source of food for something else, ”says Bakker. “If we move to a circular economy, we have so much potential to stop the destruction of wilderness and forests. “

The structure is made of natural and recyclable materials, and it was built without the use of chemicals, toxins or glue.

Bakker’s dream of creating a sustainable food system dates back to the age of 12, shortly after his family emigrated from the Netherlands to Australia. It came true in 2008, when he created a series of pop-up restaurants in Australia that used locally grown ingredients. Their success led him to open Silo, a permanent zero waste restaurant in Melbourne, in 2012.

However, Bakker never felt such a hype behind the move that he does now. He believes the Covid-19 pandemic has brought people closer to home and to nature, and interest in self-sufficient food has skyrocketed. “I think we are living in the midst of a revolution,” he said.


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