Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
critic: Marcos CRUZ.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Natalie ALIMA: Architecture today is seen something static and unresponsive. However it is time to take a hint from biology and allow our buildings to grow, adapt and self repair.
With a strong focus on mycelium, I have created an algorithmic bio scaffold, choreographing the growth and decay of this organic material. Sourcing inspiration form the medical industry and tissue engineering, this bio scaffold integrates both digital fabrication and biology. The 3-D printed structure is seeded with native cells and proteins in order to encourage cell adhesion and tissue regeneration. Being a biocompatible and bioresorbable material, the scaffold is designed to degrade over time.
However, this project proposes the question of how these characteristics of biodegradability and biocompatibility may occur outside of the human body. Furthermore, can these characteristics be extracted out of the medical field and be applied to an architectural context. By studying the characteristics of mycelium through a previous research project, I discovered that fungus absorbs nutrients through its cell walls. Therefore, by providing it with the right scaffold, the mycelium will eventually degrade the material by absorbing its nutrients. Similar to the bio scaffold, the objective of mycelium is to gradually replace the implanted scaffold.
Whilst the mycelium was previously tested on a larger scale, for this project I controlled growth by focusing on the material through a micro scale. By applying the mycelium to various scaffold typologies a sense of choreography was achieved by orientating the mycelium’s patterns of growth.
Sourcing inspiration from the medical industry, various biodegradable filaments were be tested. With the knowledge of which organic material the mycelium successfully degrades, a number of prototypes where produced. These digitally fabricated scaffolds where printed out of timber, bamboo PVA (a water soluble filament) and PLA . These bio materials where simultaneously 3d printed in order to produce a complex geometry of varied patterns and typologies.
In order to revolutionize and “hack” this mundane ideology of the scaffold, complex geometries and pathways where created, in order for the mycelium to seep through. Sourcing inspiration from nature, this biomimetic structure is varied in porosity, materiality, scale and texture. Therefore, this bio scaffold is based on a mathematical algorithm that strategically determines the growth and form of the mycelium.
In order to apply this concept of biodegradability to an architectural context, the final form was printed at a 1:1 scale as a coffee table. After conducting various tests to the material, it was discovered that the mycelium block works best in compression rather than in tension. Therefore in order to utilize the structural features of the mycelium the table is able to withstand any external forces and pressure that is applied to the surface.
Ultimately this concept is designed to allow our buildings to become one with nature and be transformed into living breathing organisms.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
NA: Medical sciences; tissue engineering; biology; Marocs Cruz; Rachel Armstrong; and Philip Ross.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
NA: Reading medical journals. Listening to: The Weeknd; Royksopp; Garden City Movement; and Disclosure.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
NA: Neri Oxman and Ronald Snooks.
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