Joost & his future food systems house

Reviving lost arts, sprucing up the home with living plants and connecting visitors back to earth’s magnetic field, are just a few of the virtues of this innovative home. Here The Together Project ventures inside the Future Food System House in Melbourne, taking a sneak-peek at the future of eco-home design with zero-waste activist, Joost Bakker.

Dutch-born Joost Bakker is the creator of hospitality venues Greenhouse by Joost and Silo By Joost, as well as the building company Built By Joost. Over the last two decades he has worked on a multitude of concepts and products that have encompassed sustainable design practices, from rooftop gardens on eco shopping centres to tiny street-side activations.

Photo: Sarah Chavdaroska
Photo: Sarah Chavdaroska
“Imagine a home that produces more energy than you need, grows more food then you can possibly eat, a complete closed loop - a zero waste system inspired by nature.”
Joost Bakker, Zero Waste Activist and Greenhouse Designer

Joost's latest project is a tourism attraction, smack dab in the middle of Melbourne's CBD. And from the moment you enter, your senses are engaged. It starts with the sight of beautiful potted strawberries ripening on a green wall and the earthy smell of a mushroom enclosure in the entrance hall. At the front door there is a gentle buzz of batteries, and a soft bubbling sound of the water pump aerating the Barramundi tanks housed in translucent tubs. Then upstairs, as you are drawn outside, the flowering food laden sun decks bamboozle your eyes, ears and nose. There is the sound of native bees buzzing and the unfurling stillness of flowers blooming. Even the interior spaces echo Joost's sustainable cause, from the calm grey, recycled wool felt curtains on the windows and natural linen sheets on the bed, to the native sugar gum rugs and local timber furniture that fill in the dining room - there's a purpose and prescience to every single element. This compact home - standing at just 87sqm - unites the natural world and design in one neat, future-proofed format that's at once, inviting and fascinating.

This little black painted home, creates a “closed loop” ecosystem with zero waste. It embodies what environmentally conscious living can be, by cleverly combining agriculture and architecture with technology and design. This mighty home punches above its weight, by packing the latest green know-how into every, square, centimetre.

Out on the rooftop things get very colourful.  Stepping out onto the first level’s garden terrace you are greeted with an array of visual delights; There are plump heirloom tomatoes ready to drop. Hops and wheat sprouting, bush herbs like mint, parsley, chervil and basil, growing wildly well at hip height and dozens of fragrant blooms from the lemon balm and marigolds, to food plants like broccoli, Swiss chard, corn, lettuce, spring onions, coriander and pumpkin. The overwhelming sense of abundance is reassuring and inspiring.


Photo: Sarah Chavdaroska
Photo: Sarah Chavdaroska
“This is the 7th building I have built like this over the last ten years and the first greenhouse ten years ago had 120 tonnes of soil on the rooftop garden. This building is designed in reverse so the building’s roof are its foundations. So the 35 tonnes of soil in the roof are what is really weighting it down.”
Joost Bakker

Inside near the kitchen we find Joost and the two house dwellers, chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett, busily preparing lunch for ten guests. There is a green egg-shaped kettle BBQ billowing smoke on the deck, and Joost’s two daughters are helping to chill down some local wine, and playing hip hop while chopping salad harvested from the garden.

Everyone is a little tired – they admit – because Zac Effron popped in last night to see the house, and ended up having a party with the home’s little crew of inhabitants.

Now the home is busily being turned around and made ship-shape for the group of guests who arrive on the dot of 1pm to see inside this lab of ingenuity.

Joost starts his tour, leading everyone from room to room explaining the design. You see the home is placed here strictly on a tourist visa, and he will be bringing it back to live on his farm in Monbulk so that his mother can live in it. He has designed it with her well-being in mind. It has concrete flooring with some under ground heating, sundecks to captures the most energy for the plants, a water purifying system outside the door and a set of terrific batteries to power all its appliances off the grid.

Joost has pre-considered the end life of every single product used ensuring nothing in it is destined for landfill. For example, says Joost. pointing to the blue grey wall behind him in the entry ‘this is magnesium board. It has been around for centuries the Romans used to use it. It is in the Great Wall of China. It is basically just magnesium and water. Completely natural, but also completely fire retardant and mould resistant’. At the end of its life, you can simply crush it up, and reuse it. This home, is not only sustainable, but regenerative; a powerful prototype of a home that can thrive 100% off the grid.

“This is our mushroom wall made entirely from waste products,” says Joost pointing to an abstract art installation on the wall.

“The steam from the bathroom gets pumped directly in here, and the heat from the water pump also gets pumped here. Every heater produces condensate so you get about 20 -30 litres of water a week which is more than enough to keep this wall going.

“These white buckets are filled with house-hold waste products like coffee grounds, saw dust, shredded cardboard, paper – all really good feed stock for mushrooms. I based this mushroom wall on the average waste that a normal family creates.”

The mushrooms will be served on the lunch table today by Joost’s resident chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone. They run the house, preparing lunches for guests, hosting tours and baking sweet goods from inside the structure. Finding this kind of man-made Eden in the city is highly unusual, but its central location also means that more people can witness first-hand, what an eco-conscious, home of the future looks like.

To learn more visit: #Greenhouse by Joost #futurefoodsystem

Future Food System 



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