Italian good news: Creating the zero-impact home from rice waste. Ricehouse wins WPP Innovators 2021 award
- WTI Magazine #145 Nov 13, 2021
18 years ago she moved to Biella (Piedmont) in front of a rice field and, day and night, she saw rice. And seeing the straw burning in the field, she asked herself: what is that waste? Native ecologist and architect, she looked beyond and thought of a solution: how can I recover that waste and turn it into a resource? Italy is the leading rice producer in Europe, but rice is produced on every continent. With this resource, Tiziana Monterisi, architect, imagined making a revolution. And she succeeded.
In 2016, she founded with her partner and geologist Alessio Colombo Ricehouse, a startup and benefit company that transforms waste derived from rice processing into materials for green building. Over the years it has won numerous awards. And last month it won the fourth edition of WPP Innovators 2021, the award dedicated to startups that stand out for innovation. A jury composed of 150 entrepreneurs, business angels, academics, journalists voted the winner among the five finalists.
"I really envisioned a house in a rice paddy. Everything that is not edible can be a new resource for us. Rice waste is a renewable raw material, a fantastic material for the future," Tiziana recounted.
"Passion, perseverance, looking beyond have been my secrets. And after 5 years, today we start building houses completely in rice. Where everything, except the supporting structure, is made of rice. We have built more than 90 of them, between Piedmont and Lombardy. Thanks to a mixture of lime, husk and straw, the materials obtained are light, thermal, breathable and healthy". This year, the Ricehouse team has grown from four to 16 people. "And we're looking to increase turnover tenfold," Tiziana adds.
"The building we live in is our skin and I've always thought about how to build it sustainably. The house we live in is zero-energy, zero-footprint: it doesn't consume energy to run (it has no heating and no air conditioner) and at the end of my life to my daughter, who is 12, I won't leave a piece of trash."