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Being asked about the

Being asked about the visibility of the natural source of a material, Young said that in his opinion it is beautiful to have materials that have some sort of life. “Real objects resonate with people,” he said, “they last a long time and they have value in a home”. And when a component is reinforced or filled with natural fibres, people would accept the organic look. It becomes a holistic object then. “For me it is important that you can feel the inherent quality. If it is dyed pink it can be any material in the world.” Architecture Michael Young and Eops have developed the EOps Noisezero i+ Eco edition. It uses cornstarch bio-plastics for the ear-buds and the microphone housing (Photo: Michael Young Design) bioplastics MAGAZINE recently reported about spekDESIGN (also from Stuttgart). Eberhard Kappler is one of the owners of the company that stands for product - and architectural design – the use of innovative materials and technologies, for aesthetic, functional and economical solutions. He said that for designers, from his point of view, the most important factors are: innovative (better, different, more sustainable) materials, the optimization of production processes, userfriendly products, or to make things possible that were not possible before. But not only in order to increase the consumption of such products, as he emphasized, but also to improve the quality and the environmental balance, for which a designers have to take their share of responsibility. When it comes to materials, he says that among the goals that need to be achieved today are energy savings and material savings, for example by choosing the right materials or the right combination of materials. And this is true for all parts of a product life cycle, including sales and transportation. When it comes to architecture, mainly for large public or corporate buildings, Kappler sees a few trends coming up. So could it become true that a building owner does not purchase the materials (for example a façade) any more, but rather rents them for a timeframe of, for example, 30 years. After or maybe even during that period the façade will be replaced by a new one with more upto-date materials. And such materials could well be biobased plastics. The old material will be recycled for other purposes. Or a building-owner does not buy lamps, but rather light or luminance, for example 50,000 lumens per month. It is then up to the supplier of lamps to realize this luminance with upto-date technology and to replace the technology from time to time (Thomas Rau, oneplanet architecture, Amsterdam). Large buildings and their architectural products will become kind of raw-material banks with a lot of steel, aluminium, glass and plastics. In cases where bioplastics and conventional plastics are used in one project, Kappler pointed out, that it is essential that all materials can be separated and do not influence the recyclability of each other. Eberhard Kappler is particularly impressed by certain properties of certain bioplastics for certain applications. One example which he mentioned are corner protectors for solar panels. When setting up such solar panels the protectors can simply fall down into the excavation pit and left to biodegrade instead of picking them up for disposal. Musical instruments such as clarinets or recorders are the second example that Kappler mentioned. When producing such flutes from conventional plastic the sound is rather poor. Flutes made from lignin based liquid wood (Tecnaro) exhibit the sound quality of a wooden instrument. 56 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/13] Vol. 8

Another architect, bioplastics MAGAZINE spoke to is Martin Böttcher from Frankfurt/Main, Germany. From the very beginning of his career, he concentrated on ecologically-sound construction. For him this meant to build houses using ecologically sustainable materials such as wood, clay and straw, but also bioplastics. Böttcher recognized a trend that ecologically sound construction is moving from a treehugger niche to a broader public. And thus, the design requirements are also increasing. In other words, even wood/clay buildings must look modern and stylish. And when it comes to the use of bioplastics, he is convinced that the fact that these applications are made from renewably sourced plastics must not be visible. He calls it kind of understatement: The parts must look cool and when the consumers are told that these parts are made from biobased or biodegradable plastics, they should appear even cooler. Another aspect which is even more important for Martin Böttcher is building biology. It is good, that materials are made from renewable resources and maybe they can be composted after their lifetime. But during use, during the lifetime of a building, under no circumstances may harmful substances evaporate from the building materials. So Böttcher will have a close look at this aspect when choosing a material. Carmen Köhler, PhD student and scientific staff member at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) - University of Stuttgart, contributed an article on bioplastics to be used in façades in the last issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE. She is always looking for unique features in terms of tactile and visual appearance, or technical features. A designer should not constantly try to bring new materials to the market but rather analyse what advantages a certain bioplastic might offer compared to other plastics. For her this was a decisive factor in all her projects so far. Bioplastics combine the advantages of plastics (e.g. easy to bring into shape, transparent, or with different tactile and visual aesthetic aspects) with the merits of natural materials such as wood. Wood cannot be shaped as easily as plastic and the possibilities to vary the visual nature of wood are limited. Wood comes as it was grown, the properties cannot be changed any more. Bioplastics are based on renewable resources as well, but you can tailor them to your needs. Concerning the visibility of the renewable source Carmen Köhler said that one of the fascinating facts about bioplastics is that these materials can be both unconspicously sustainable, minimalistically plain or come in a brown ecodesign. It is always dependant on the architectural task. In discussions with architects she found that many of them are excited about the fact that bioplastics can be transparent or white and can be perfectly shaped and coloured. They can compete with sustainable materials but do not need to restrict themselves with a view to the final appearance. The French designer Philippe Starck from Paris prefers synthetic materials because mankind has created them, and not actually found them. “We have found the stone, like it is, wood like it is, leather like it is … but from a black mud we have created a crystal of intelligence”, he said. “The history of plastic is the history of human genius. We are at the end of the fossil era, no more oil means no more gas for cars — who cares? But no more plastic is a drama that we cannot even conceive. The only solution today seems to be bioplastics but we cannot start a new era without rules and ethics.” One of his biggest concerns Paneling, thermoformed bioplastic-example by research group: itke, iswa, Tecnaro, Bauer, spek Design (Foto: spek Design) Façade element made from a thermoformed lignin-based bioplastics (Tecnaro) filled with moss (Photo: M.R. Hammer / ITKE) bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/13] Vol. 8 57

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