Design Museum exhibition focuses on low-carbon building materials

Stone’ section of How to Build a Low-Carbon Home. © Felix Speller for the Design Museum.

The Design Museum in London has opened a new exhibition called How to Build a Low-Carbon Home with a focus on three key sustainable materials – natural stone, straw and wood.

Running until March 2024, it will showcase how these three ancient low-carbon materials can enable to  the UK to address the housing crisis while also meeting climate pledges. The display will show how these three resources are being championed through the work of a new generation of architects, who have been pioneering their use in ambitious and innovative construction projects across the UK and includes contributions from Amin Taha of Groupworks Architects and Steve Webb of Webb Yates Engineers among others.

How to Build a Low-Carbon Home was initiated by the Design Museum’s Future Observatory, a national design research programme for the green transition and is led by architect Dr Ruth Lang, includes a broad programme of activities to engage the UK construction industry in more sustainable approaches. Future Observatory was launched in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The display explores the urgent need to rethink the way we build our towns and cities, to respond to both the housing and climate crises. Materials commonly used in construction, such as steel and concrete, contribute to nearly 10 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions. Each section is dedicated to one of the three resources, tracing its journey from raw material to building material to architecture. 

The prominence of stone in construction dwindled with the advent of reinforced concrete and steel in the nineteenth century, and its use today is largely decorative. Unlike these materials, however, stone is an abundant resource found in the earth’s crust. It can be three times stronger than concrete, and requires much less energy to produce. The display highlights new stone architecture, as well as the tools and craftsmanship of Lincolnshire stonemasons who handshape blocks for sustainable construction.

To find out more, visit the Design Museum's website.