Salt city

Making fresh water from salt water is common enough in deserts bordering on the sea. Eric Geboers came up with the idea to use the remaining salt as a building material. So, he went to the supermarket, bought a bag of salt and switched on the oven. It wasn’t easy to create a strong building material, but he pulled it off. ‘At first I was baking soft cakes, but I can now produce fairly strong bars. The bars are fairly similar to non-reinforced concrete, as used by the Romans. They are not very good at withstanding tensile forces, but can withstand compressive forces, which means you can only use it to build arches.’

The resulting curving shapes give the scale models he built a rather exotic look. He also added a waterproof coating. Although the former student expects to be able to build up to two stories high, he first needs to carry out further testing to eliminate teething problems. And yet already Geboers has won awards from the Science of Future Cities Competition and the Challenge Stad van de toekomst (City of the Future Challenge). ‘I am now looking for funding to build a small salt pavilion on the Dutch coast,’ he says. However, the real work will be done in the desert, ‘because there are better alternatives for sustainable building in the Netherlands.’

the salt projectDI thema opening

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