Productive Building is a recycled and recyclable building system concept that was recently demonstrated for the construction of Greenhouse, a temporary, and entirely waste free, restaurant on the waterfront in Sydney, Australia.  The Productive Building system is an intriguing and fast way of creating a building with steel, straw bales, and simple interior and exterior finishes.

The restaurant was only up from February 12 through the end of March 2011 and has now been disassembled.  But the construction method could be used elsewhere for more permanent structures, as well as for similar temporary structures like this.

It begins with a light-gauge steel frame, which can even be site-fabricated using a roll-forming machine that produces structural forms from a continuous roll of thin sheet steel. After the frame is erected, the inside is clad with plywood for structural bracing and to provide the interior finish of the building.

Then spaces between the frame are filled with straw bales. Straw bales are, of course, a very local material. The exterior is covered with corrugated metal and then a steel mesh with terracotta pots was installed to make a vegetated wall for the building. Lastly, the building was finished on the interior, and doors and windows were installed.

There are some disadvantages to this for permanent construction. The metal structure means that there is a piece of thermally conductive metal going through the wall, which reduces the insulation benefit of straw bale wall construction.

The straw bale, which is actually load-bearing in standard straw bale construction, serves only as insulation infill in this case, so there is some duplication of structure.  However, for a temporary installation, the structure was able to be quickly and easily assembled on its site, and was also able to be quickly disassembled and its various materials re-purposed or recycled.

The restaurant is next scheduled to go up in Milan, followed by other European cities on its World Tour.

Many thanks to Melissa Mai for graciously providing images of the building from its brief incarnation.