23 Nov 2017
Beirut, Lebanon
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

A crackling wood stove in the living room has long been a centerpiece of the Lebanese culture. But over the years, the stove has taken a backseat to more modern technology. Many of the stoves that still populate the homes in the mountainous parts of Lebanon either burn too much wood or don’t do enough to heat a room.

That’s where Stouff, built by MAD Architecture & Design, comes in, offering a modern take on stoves. Marie-Lyne Samaha of MAD Architecture has fond memories of the traditional Lebanese stove. She grew up in Amchit, Lebanon, a small historical town next to Byblos. As she grew up and pursued a career in architecture at the Lebanese University in Beirut, the stove became a distant thought. That is until MAD Architecture & Design started working on an interior design for a client’s apartment.

“He really wanted a stove, and we weren’t finding the proper design for a good stove for him, which is where the idea came up,” says Samaha. “We designed the Stouff and won an award at the 2017 Beirut Design Fair.”

This Lebanese initiative is bringing stoves back in an eco-friendly design | The Switchers

The evolution of Stouff:

Stouff is sleek and modern with a small compartment for cooking, reminiscent of the stoves of bygone days. It can also be linked to a home’s central heating system to provide even more warmth.

But after the launch of Stouff, the designers asked for more: they wanted a stove that not only serves as a focal point for a room, but one that’s environmentally friendly as well.

“We were thinking, why not upgrade Stouff and have Eco-Stouff, with maximum efficiency and one that’s eco-friendly,” says Samaha. “We wanted to completely reinvent the Lebanese-looking stove.”

It seemed like the perfect problem for Samaha, who has a master’s in sustainable architecture from Ensa-Versailles Architectural School in France, and a master’s of research in the science of architecture, urbanism and landscape from The Lebanese University.

The Eco-Stouff: how it helps the environment:

In winter, many Lebanese people escape the crush of city life by heading to the mountains. They stay at second homes or at resorts where they enjoy skiing and fresh air. Often, fires are lit in fireplaces with chimneys, and are kept alive by using a combination of wood and diesel fuel, sending out CO2 and other noxious gases.

The designers of Eco-Stouff hope to cut down on air pollution with their new environmentally friendly stove.

“Our main idea is to build this stove on two phases. First, we’re working on the combustion. We are aiming to have a second combustion compartment that cuts down on the toxic gases emitted by the stove,” says Samaha. “The second is the material. Instead of two-millimeter steel we want to use five-millimeter steel, plus, we want to add bricks. This all works to preserve the heat and reuse it in different ways.”

Eco-Stouff isn’t ready for prime time yet. Samaha hopes they can work on it in early 2018.

Meanwhile, people have expressed delight at the Stouff.

“At first, people were shocked, saying they’d forgotten all about the traditional Lebanese stove. They thought stoves of the past were really ugly, but they like Stouff, saying it’s modern and good-looking, and they want to know more about the Eco-Stouff that’s coming out next.”

Solving the environmental problems in Lebanon:

Eco-Stouff will play a small role in helping the environment heal in Lebanon, a country that is plagued with high pollution levels from transportation, and emissions from diesel generators used to power homes. A staggering 93% of Beirut’s population is exposed to high levels of air pollution.

Raymond Ghajar, Associate Dean of the School of Engineering at the Lebanese American University and Senior Energy Advisor for the Ministry of Energy and Water, said of Eco-Stouff to be a good option for many, the price of wood has to go down.

“Wood is expensive right now; diesel is cheaper,” he said. “The good thing about Eco-Stouff is that it emits ash instead of CO2, but the problem is that ash creates smog.”

He said, right now, environmental awareness in Lebanon isn’t very high, but the country has been moving slowly towards more sustainable practices like LED lighting, photovoltaic panels and energy-efficient cars.

Maya Karkour, co-founder of EcoConsulting in Lebanon, said, at first, she sees the Eco-Stouff as an appliance for the wealthy with second homes in the mountains or resorts that cater to skiers.

“Stouff is seen as a replacement for the chimney in a nice living room, but it’s a more energy-efficient and a less toxic solution,” she said. “I don’t know if the price will be low enough for people in rural environments, where they still resort to using the old stoves. Those stoves get a lot of fumes inside homes, and burn too much wood to be efficient.”

She hopes as more people see Stouff in mountain homes, there may be a trickle-down effect where others want to buy and try out Eco-Stouff.

Raising awareness about the environment:

While awareness of environmental issues isn’t top-of-mind in Lebanon, the country may be at a turning point. Air quality is not good, and high gas prices have people looking at cars that are more energy-efficient.

Samaha herself lives in an old house with a large garden in the city where she grew up. She finds solace in hiking in the forest, and has a passion for nature and the environment.

She hopes the slow-growing trend of environmental awareness helps Eco-Stouff take off.

“We are re-creating a heritage that has died in a way, so this is very important to us,” she said. “It’s our duty as architects to design sustainably. Sustainability is a duty, not a plus. We need to take care of our planet.”





Web: www.stouffdesign.com

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/Stouff-293016801145114/

Photos: Courtesy of MAD Architecture and Design.

Kristin Hanes is a journalist who has a passion for the environment, sustainability and science. She loves telling stories about people who are making a real difference in the world.Kristin Hanes
This Lebanese initiative is bringing stoves back in an eco-friendly design | The Switchers
Eco-Stouff Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency