Most people don’t realize that there is a growing body of research in the world of architecture based on biologic solutions to our built environment. This particular video by Rachel Armstrong from TED.com discusses technologies that are currently being researched that would actually use living organisms to create a limestone foundation underneath Venice’s failing wood piling system. It is a completely new way to think about how we may be able to solve problems like this, as well as implement these ideas into new architecture.
The idea of self-repairing architecture can be staggering. I have contemplated exterior sidings that might live and repair themselves similar to the bark of a tree. In fact, I wouldn’t mind at all if it even looked like the bark on a tree. With advancements in fields originally thought to be wholly unrelated to architecture, like microbiology and electrochemistry, we may be able to collaborate on our collective ideas to develop a new architecture that relates and interacts with our natural environment in a natural way. In my own contemplations, perhaps there may be some way to graft living bark onto a substrate that could be joined in a system to create such a living wall. Maybe this is something that can be done on site to existing buildings. It would give rise to a tree house with a whole new meaning.
Consider the myriad of other possibilities that might implement living organisms to create a living structure – much in the same way that thousands of species use coral as their home. Instead of growing foliage outside of the exterior skin of a structure, let it be the skin of the structure, or perhaps even the structure itself. Can rigid structures like coral be easily grown on the terrestrial surface? This kind of thinking may give rise to a new and truly organic kind of design. How it would be viewed under our current building code is an entirely different question!
I will be posting more on this topic as I continue my own research, but I encourage a discussion on it to share ideas.