Day 169: Architecture that repairs itself

Rachel Armstrong wants to end the present one way system of architecture, where there is a one way transfer of energy from our environment into our homes. By developing new methods to make our living spaces more in touch with nature, she hopes we can one day save Venice.
Armstrong is working with a number of collaborators to develop metabolic materials for the practice of architecture. One of these is chemist Martin Hanczyc, who works with a system called the protocell. Protocells are little fatty bags with a chemical battery which can conduct themselves in a living manner. They can move around the environment, follow chemical gradients and undergo complex reactions.
Just like limestone, protocells can make a shell and deposit it in a complex environment, against natural materials. Using this knowledge, an architect has came up with designs to grow a limestone roof under the city of Venice. But how would it become crafted around the wooden poles? The correct species of protocells can be engineered to move away from the lights to the foundations of the study. The local marine life will be attracted to this architecture and find their own ecological niches. The metabolic materials have many of the properties of living systems. Finally, an observer in the future marvelling at a structure may be unable to tell if it has been created by a natural process or an artificial one.


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