Joost Bakker // Zero Waste Pioneer, Ethical Restaurateur, Designer, and Lifestyle Curator (part one)

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Joost Bakker the man who gave us Silo, Greenhouse, and Brothl. Joost is a man who I have admired, followed and inspired me for many, many years now. He is a man with many talents and wears many hats. Joost Bakker is at the forefront of the Zero Waste movement, installation designer, floral stylist, environmental activist and a ground-breaking creative and designer.

Joost Bakker’s 25 year commitment to the sustainability movement has been so important I’m a little bit overwhelmed trying to find my favourite highlights without this blog being ridiculously long (thinking we might even make this a two-part blog as there is so much to cover). Joost is a pioneer, inspiration and environmental superstar.

1. His Own Home.

Joost’s home sits at the feet of the Dandenong Ranges in a town called Monbulk which is about 45 minutes east of Melbourne. He lives there with his wife and three children and bought the property in 2000. The land was previously a cherry farm, so their first task was to clear the existing trees and they installed large concrete water tanks, after that they re-planted over 200 trees from cuttings.

The house stretches over 600 square metres and includes Joost’s studio, garage and the family home and of course stunning gardens and greenery surrounding the entire property. The concept for the home was to create a strong connection between the indoors and outdoors. ‘In Holland, everyone lives in their gardens. I wanted to build a home where people actually spend time in the gardens. I always wanted a home where the garden feels like part of the house’ – Joost Bakker (Design Files)

Now let’s get to the good stuff! The home was actually built by Joost himself (with the help of a couple of casual labourers and some very good mates) and took eight months to construct. He never planned on building the home himself, however, because of the unconventional construction ideas and building materials they couldn’t find any builders who would do it for them! The home was built around the idea that everything used throughout the construction process had to be completely recyclable (that includes every steel beam, every sheet of plywood, every window frame), he also designed this family home to have every element of the structure to have the ability to be up-cycled in the future so each element can be unscrewed and dismantled.

Timbers and other construction materials can’t be recycled if they have glue adhesives, plaster or floor polishes so Joost ensured none of them were included in any part of the build. (Heads up I'm about to gush about a few more of the incredibly innovative building solutions) The slab was made out of 90% recycled concrete, there was a lot of steel frames used through (Joost loves using steel because of the recyclable qualities), strawbails, blockwork for thermal mass and plywood for the floors. The plywood were treated used a Swedish method called ‘soaped’, which essentially is adding a pure wax finish to the wood and doesn’t add colour and protects the plywood without having to use harsh chemicals or polishes.

The exterior of the home is covered by Joost’s signature vertical garden of terracotta pots which has over 11,000 wild strawberry plants, there is also a large vegetable garden which provides fruit, vegetables and herbs to feed the family (all the excess produce is passed along to friends, family and even makes it into his restaurants).

2. Zero waste, closed loop restaurants.

You might have already heard us mention Joost in our previous blog ‘Designing Sustainable Restaurants for Ethical Food and Interiors’ which featured his East London restaurant, Silo. However, Joost has had a long list of like-minded restaurants and pop up eateries. Another standout is pop-up restaurant Greenhouse, a combination of food, art, architecture, ecology and most importantly a waste-free establishment. Greenhouse has been a pop up at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, ISPT in Perth CBD, Sydney Harbour and East London.

Greenhouse is specifically designed to be a traveling pop-up restaurant it can be completely packed up into shipping containers (this includes building structure, stairs, the kitchen, bathrooms, bar, furniture and staff facilities). Like his family home Greenhouse uses strawbales for insulation in the walls and all of the building materials are either reclaimed or recycled. The real ‘eco-standout’ is the venue is not reliant on mains power or water – Joost has taken this to a whole other level by taking the waste from the bathrooms and turning it into fertiliser! Crazy, maybe even a little bit gross if you think about it too much but it is definitely the true definition of zero-waste.

The furniture and appliances used in the restaurant are carefully chosen for water and energy savings. The cooktops, washing machine dishwashers, rangehoods and dryer was from Miele (cooking oil is used to power the on-site generator). The furniture, lights and candles were all supplied through Joost’s own brand, By Joost.

3. Large Scale Sustainability.

Shopping centres and sustainability and not generally two terms that go hand in hand. However, Frasers Property Australia has bravely taken on the challenge of changing the thinking around shopping centres with the new 12700-square-metres of retail space, Burwood Brickworks. The overall aim of the project was to prove you can achieve an environmentally conscious space at any scale or application.

The precinct includes an extensive solar PV system, and an embedded electricity system to achieve a minimum 5 Green Star rating. Burwood Brickworks is also pursuing accreditation for the Living Building Challenge (LBC), if they are approved it would be the first certified retail development (to be considered the structure needs to meet a net zero carbon footprint, construction using non-toxic and recycled materials).

Frasers Property Australia brought sustainability experts and creative consultants including the one and only Joost Bakker. Joost designed the 2000-square-metre rooftop urban farm and restaurant all of which focus’s on ‘closed loop’ water reduction and organic waste reduction.

I feel I've barely touched the edges of all of the achievements and endeavours of Joost Bakker. Stay tuned for our next instalment of the Joost blogs - he is an absolute hero of mine for everything he is doing for this earth!

If you are interested in how we can help you make your home or business more environmentally conscious and carefully designed please get in touch at

#interiordesign #sustainability #sustainabledesign #interiordesigner


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