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Biohm is a multi-award-winning research and development led, bio-manufacturing company. We allow nature to lead innovation, to revolutionise construction and create a healthier, more sustainable, built-environment.

Shortlisted to build Shelter on Bulgaria's Mount Vitosha

Our proposal, Freedome, has been shortlisted by Bulgaria's BRING as one of the top 5 concepts submitted for a mountain shelter to be built near the summit of Mount Vitosha. We will be attending the summer festival in Sofia on the 27th August to present our concept to the public and hopefully gain sufficient votes to build Freedome in the summer of 2017.

Taking inspiration from Balkan traditions and the surrounding natural beauty, Freedome, utilises Bulgaria’s natural resources and local skills to offer a revolutionary zero-carbon shelter. Top of the range technologies are used responsibly to offer appropriate functionality, whilst maintaining its sustainability and affordability. It generates all of its own energy and offers optimal energy efficiency to ensure that all of Vitosha’s visitors find a sustainable, comfortable and resourceful shelter during their trek.

The shape of the shelter is inspired by Vitosha’s famous dome shape with smaller peaks that overlap in the distance, It is also reminiscent of the asymmetrical angled roofs of other shelters on Vitosha mountain. The materials used in the building’s construction, interior and exterior design are local, natural and available in abundance. Freedome uses our radical construction system, Triagomy. It takes inspiration from nature to create flexible buildings that can be manufactured off-site and simply assembled on-site. The shelter can, therefore, be deconstructed at any stage of its life to change its appearance or move it to a different location.

Our construction system, Triagomy, that is used to create Freedome does not require binding materials or permanent fasteners, which makes it ideal for a mountain shelter located in a remote area. The components are lightweight, yet structurally sound, due to the composition of the natural concrete alternative used. Once the shelter is deconstructed, it can be removed without a trace, leaving the site and surrounding environment more or less untouched.

The shelter will be able to house up to 23 people, if necessary. With an increased height of over 4 metres, A mezzanine platform offers more seating/sleeping space. The total floorspace can accommodate 10 erect people (30cm x 60cm) and the seating/sleeping space can accommodate up to 13 people. Indoor facilities include a sink with a tap, that offers cold and warm potable water, seating/sleeping areas with bag storage, emergency satellite phone, satellite broadband and a wireless information point. Sensors will be embedded in all technologies to ensure that all faults or issues are recorded and reported immediately.

The shelter will be oriented in a manner that ensures that the large window is facing south for improved energy-efficiency. To the side of the shelter and protected from the strong north-westerly and westerly winds, lies a shaded outdoor area with a tap to provide washing/cleaning facilities and seating to enjoy the views in good weather. Water pumped from the nearby water source will be heated to around 60oC to protect from bacteria such as Legionella before reaching the indoor tap. The water provided by the outdoor tap will be non-potable. The bespoke wind-turbine has been placed to the western-most point of the shelter to ensure optimal exposure to the wind.

Freedome will be seamlessly equipped with modern technology integrated throughout the structure. All the power requirements will be catered for by the wind turbine, which has been designed to withstand the cold climate (hydrophobic blades and predominantly vertical surfaces) and solar windows, which have photo-voltaic cells embedded in the glass. Due to the regular snow fall throughout half of the year, traditional wind turbines and roof-top solar panels would not be appropriate.

Energy is stored using a sustainable and modular energy storage system, which recycles end-of-life batteries, developed by Aceleron who work closely with us. This will ensure that the energy produced can be used when required and minimises losses.

An emergency satellite phone will have independent energy storage to ensure its functionality at all times. The shelter can charge all mobile devices with plug sockets, USB ports and wireless charging facilities and a satellite broadband modem will provide internet access for all users.

The information point that uses NFC wireless technology provides visitors with direct access to specific information using their smart-phone. The information provided would be: rescue services, map of locality, nearest populated areas, walking routes in addition to neighboring sights and wildlife.

Apart from some of the appliances and electronics, all materials used in Freedome are 100% natural, recyclable, reusable or biodegradable, local and sensitive to the surrounding environment and visitors’ health and wellbeing. The construction system will use a natural concrete alternative that utilises waste from Bulgaria’s renowned glass industry combined with local volcanic ash and wood wool for added structural strength and bound with lime. This results in a semi-permeable material, which will help maintain the indoor humidity and indoor air-quality.

Using Bulgaria’s abundant resources and industry by-products, Freedome will keep costs to a minimum. It is estimated that one module would potentially cost between €25,000 and €30,000. As well as fulfilling visitors’ comfort, security and safety needs, Freedome will be an excellent way to showcase the past and future of Bulgarian architecture, culture and empathy for nature and the environment.