Course Blog

Architecture for auto-generative Ecosystems in the urban and non-urban landscape.

Biological Architecture-Biodesign

Greenhouse emissions are causing tremendous negative impacts on the global ecosystem. Scientific predictions from diverse sources are highly alarming about the catastrophic effects of global warming in the next decades. One of the most critical aspects of the climate change is the fast destruction of the natural environments and the consequent reduction of the biodiversity they hold. This project considers that the value of global biodiversity is fundamental, due terrestrial ecosystems are the most complex structures we know, as scientific research has shown little to none evidence of organic life in the rest of the solar system.

Facing this scenario it seems imperative to create solutions that based on two criteria:

  1. The reduction of greenhouse gases emissions.
    2. The creation of conditions for the reproduction and growth of different organisms in both urban and non-urban habitats.

One important reference is Neri Oxman´s Silk Pavillion.  2013

We as a team believe that those two criteria are best tackled from the interdisciplinary perspective of Biodesign and specifically from the point of view of bioarchitecture, in the sense that a given solution could be conceived as a spatial device that mediates between human and non-human populations. The initial approach to this project could be described as a self-generating carbon-neutral structure which thus its materiality and shape is capable to support biological activity in a way that the integrity and development of the populations and the growth of the structure itself do not depend on human intervention or artificial energy inputs. The objective of such structure is to support different kinds of biological activity that could eventually produce different ecological services.
In the first place, we look to generate processes of biological carbon capture, associated with the cycles of growth and reproduction of the different organisms. Currently, we are researching how to produce micro-ecologies that can be scaled up from the bacterial scale to the scale of bigger plants, mushrooms, and small animals, like birds and insects. Secondly, we are looking into different possibilities to conduct the biological processes of bacterial ecologies in the production of energy and materials. In that sense, we are exploring different alternatives to produce and harvest electricity with cyanobacteria and to aid the structural integrity and growth of the artificial ecosystem by bio-mineralization.

First design concept: This is the first idea to start imagining our project.

The materials of the supporting structure have to be as carbon-neutral as possible, so we are looking into different biomaterials that could be combined and shaped into adaptative designs.
At the moment we are considering the use of biopolymers and mycelium, for the structural pieces, we also are looking into hydrogels and biofilm as milieus for microbiological development, and the use of bacterias like cyanobacteria for energy production and Sporosarcina pasteurii and Bacillus megaterium for calcium carbonate crystallization. Bio-mineralization is an interesting way to create a self-generative structure that could increase the space for other species with no human intervention.

Design concept


Actually, the team has discussed the idea to change the design to a module that can be adapted to different circumstances. The current idea would be a panel with a surface designed to increase the area for the colonization of the bacterial species.

Surface iterations:



Hao, J., Huang, Y., He, C., Xu, W., Yuan, L., Shu, D., Song, X. and Meng, T. (2018). Bio-templated fabrication of three-dimensional network activated carbons derived from mycelium pellets for supercapacitor applications. Scientific Reports, 8(1).
Gajda, I., Greenman, J., Melhuish, C., Ieropoulos, I, (2015). Self-sustainable electricity production from algae grown in a microbial fuel cell system, Biomass and Bioenergy 82 (2015) 87e93.
M., Dade-Robertson, A. Keren-Paz, M. Zhang, I. Kolodkin-Gal. (2017). Architects of nature: growing buildings with bacterial biofilms. © 2017 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.

Mazard, S., Penesyan, A., Ostrowski, M., Paulsen, I., Egan, S. (2016). Tiny Microbes with a Big Impact: The Role of Cyanobacteria and Their Metabolites in Shaping Our Future, Marine Drugs 2016, 14, 97; doi:10.3390/md14050097.

Worrich, A., Stryhanyuk, H., Musat, N., König, S., Banitz, T., Centler, F., Frank, K., Thullner, M., Harms, H., Richnow, H., Miltner, A., Kästner, M. and Wick, L. (2017). Mycelium-mediated transfer of water and nutrients stimulates bacterial activity in dry and oligotrophic environments. Nature Communications, 8, p.15472.

Miguel B. Araújo, Carsten Rahbek. How Does Climate Change Affect Biodiversity? Science, Vol. 313, Issue 5792, pp. 1396-1397