As the push for innovate materials increases, new ways to use natural materials have been found. A unique approach to using plant materials in our buildings is the use of invasive species. Invasive species are non native plants that often overtake and ruin natural landscapes due to their high adaptability and resistance to outside forces. Some designers and scientists have used this problem as an opportunity for creativity. Focusing on an example out of the Everglades in Florida, researchers there looked to reduce an invasive species while still being able to reuse the material. At Florida International University, students in studio were asked to find building applications for the non native Melaleuca Tree. This tree grows extremely quickly and was being cut down and turned into mulch at a high rate. Students found ways to incorporate this material into a concrete mix that created benches, walls and other architectural elements. This project shed light on the ability to use these plants in other ways and across the country researchers have looked to help curb their invasive species problems by turning them into building materials. Although every species varies in their ability to be transformed into a building material, scientists and designers are hopeful that invasive species as building materials will be frequently used in the architecture field.
Roberto Rovira and Nick Gelpi. Exotic Constructions: Incorporating Invasive Species in Design-Build Studio. Florida International University. Press. 2014