innovation in architecture: living materials from biotechnology

Here’s a fascinating look at “a new material world and a new level of sustainability in architecture, from the ArchDaily:

Bioengineered materials, which grow, produce energy, self-heal, are the next frontier in biology and material science and potentially a path towards a new kind of architecture. Although innovation in these fields is still far away from mainstream commercial use, it promises to dramatically change the image of the built environment.

IMG_6070 | Hy-Fi, PS1 YAP, New York City The Living, 2014 | trevor.patt | Flickr
The Living
Hy-Fi, The Organic Mushroom-Brick Tower Opens At MoMA’s PS1 Courtyard | ArchDaily

Replacing Traditional Production with Organic Growth

At the University of Colorado Boulder, the Living Materials Laboratory investigated a new cement-free living building material that, unlike concrete, is entirely recyclable. The team used cyanobacteria, green microorganisms similar to algae that use CO2 and sunlight to grow, and manufactured a bio cement that helps sequester CO2. 

Self-repairing materials for less resource consumption

With concrete responsible for almost 9% of global carbon emissions, numerous research endeavours focus on finding alternatives to traditional concrete, rethinking its production process or finding solutions for decreasing the demand. At the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, researchers have developed a self-healing concrete, using an enzyme that transforms carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into calcium carbonate crystals, sealing millimetre-scale cracks and preventing further damage to the material. Unlike the experiments with self-healing concrete using bacteria, this process is faster and doesn’t pose any safety issues.

Real-life testing and architectural applications

The Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment is a research project bringing together bio-scientists from Northumbria University and architects, designers and engineers from Newcastle University working to develop biotechnologies that would help create buildings responsive to their environment.

The Integrated Design Research Lab at the University of North Carolina Charlotte developed an adaptable microalgae façade system that improves indoor air quality and produces renewable energy through integrated photobioreactors. 

Biotechnology and Green Tech: A New Material World for Sustainable Architecture | ArchDaily