New collaboration in living architecture

Posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 in News| Share this article
EPSRC has announced the award of a cross-disciplinary feasibility account (CDFA) to the University of Sheffield, entitled Foams for Living Architecture. The CDFA, under the leadership of Prof Tony Ryan of the Polymer Centre, brings together architects, chemists, plant scientists and civil engineers from the University of Sheffield and four small and medium-sized enterprises to establish ways to integrate polymer foams into a new generation of solutions for green roofs and walls.

This multi-disciplinary account, supported with £202,111 from EPSRC, seeks to develop a novel technology to form the basis of a lightweight, modular green roof or wall based on the use of lightweight polymer foams to retain moisture whilst providing a network of channels to support root growth. The whole system will take the form of a module that could be easily transported and combined with other modules to cover large areas. The weight saving of the polymer foam over traditional substrates will also allow retrofitting of this technology to buildings that cannot support current heavier green roof systems. The proposed system would represent a significant advancement in living architecture.

The project will see contributions from a group of senior academics that are drawn from the Departments of Chemistry, Animal and Plant Sciences, Landscape and Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield who will work alongside colleagues from Farapack Polymers Ltd, Europolymers (GB)Ltd , Lindum Seeded Turf Ltd and Boningale Ltd. This group has formed during the previous 3 years following a series of highly successful collaborations. The combination of partners means the group possesses both the technical knowledge to perform the fundamental research whilst also being ideally placed to produce a technology that is commercially viable.

The network was developed by the ERDF-funded Nanofactory consortium of 6 Yorkshire universities, working to enable access to the region’s academic expertise in nanotechnology for SMEs in the county such as Europolymers and Lindum. Nanofactory spotted the opportunity to connect Sheffield’s Polymer Centre and Green Roof Centre with these company partners in response to EPSRC’s call for proposals.

EPSRC grant EP/I016821/1

The Green Roof Centre

Boningale Ltd

Europolymers (GB) Ltd

FaraPack Polymers Ltd

Lindum Seeded Turf Ltd