This house is made of lava


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Architect Arnhildur Palmadottir has an earth-melting new idea.

The native of Iceland was interested in finding sustainable building materials that would be more readily available in the future than steel and concrete, so she opened her mind, stretched outside of her box and took a good look around. 

She is in Iceland. She saw dramatic black sand beaches, geysers, waterfalls, valleys and volcanoes. A whole lot of volcanoes. So many volcanoes. 

Iceland experiences a major volcanic event every five years on average. One third of the lava that has covered the earth since the Middle Ages has been produced by Icelandic volcanoes. 

Palmadottir wondered if there was some way to use the very building bricks of earth itself, harnessed and controlled, in modern commercial construction. If floes could be directed and formed.  Thus was the idea of Lavaforming born. 

Palmadottir presented her idea at the 2022 Design March festival in Reykjavik, suggesting that lava could be directed and potentially used in three ways. 

Lava could be directed into a large chamber, or a mold, cooled and used in its new form. It could be cut into blocks, it could be used as traditional building materials are used. Or  it could be 3D printed in a molten state. Or, most impressively, it could be used as a base for an entire city by channeling it into parallel trenches and allowing it to cool naturally. 

And it’s sustainable. 

This is a radical and unprecedented pivot in the world of architecture, but that was Palmadottir’s intent, as it is for so many visionaries these days. 

As they look to the future, we have a choice, a vital choice, to make.  Do we drown as the chains of our past drag us down, or will we too be reborn of fire? 

Check out the design for yourself here.

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