Published June 30, 2023 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Another Logic For Architectural (Bio-) Design And Fabrication -Lessons From The Living Prototypes Project


This paper argues that biomaterials can bring about a change in how we design and build architecture. To embrace this opportunity, it is important that we recognise their potential to challenge the professional practice of architecture, in order to identify how we can build sustainably into the future. This paper draws insights from a 18 month European cross-disciplinary research project, where three teams of academic and industry partners scaled up existing cutting-edge lab-based technologies in 3D-Printed earth, Flax-Fibre Winding and Biopolymer Print to demonstrator level in order to identify potential and challenges of natural and biobased recycled materials in combination with digital fabrication techniques. The project concluded in an integrated 1:1 scale prototype of a future everyday living space which was digitally fabricated as an installation with the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. The evaluation of the process and result shows how the strong material behaviour, temporality and heterogeneity of biomaterials required the teams to radically rethink processes of fabrication, assembly, tolerances, and joints between material systems as well, as the materials malleability provided opportunities for adaptation and caretaking. The project demonstrates that digital techniques, such as additive manufacturing, sensing, data collection and machine learning, are key to the design and fabrication of biobased materials. In the paper detailed lessons for future developments and practice-based methods for the shift towards natural, biodegradable, and recyclable materials are identified. These call to rethink standardisation in the building industry, as digital technologies provide means to adapt design and fabrication to the heterogeneities of biomaterials and challenge the current practice of optimisation for minimal material usage in design as resource-efficient use of biomaterials needs to include more complex considerations of local ecology, the speed of natural growth and processing, dynamic environmental conditions, agricultural policies and cultures.



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ECO-METABOLISTIC-ARC – An Eco-Metabolistic Framework for Sustainable Architecture 101019693
European Commission