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Adaptive Morphologies: Toward a Morphogenesis of Material Construction

Lookup NU author(s): Carolina Ramirez-Figueroa, Professor Martyn Dade-Robertson


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Architectural discourse has recently suggested a new material practice derived from advances in the field of synthetic biology. As biological organisms can now be designed and engineered for specific purposes, it is expected that, in the near future, it will be possible to programme even more complex biological base systems. One potential application is to, literally grow buildings by programming cellular organisms to fabricate and deposit material into architecturally relevant patterns. Our current design methods do not anticipate the potentially challenging material practice involved in a biologically engineered architecture, where there is a loose and emergent relationship between design and material articulation. To tackle this conflict, we developed SynthMorph, a form finding computational tool based on basic biological morphogenetic principles. A reflection is offered on its use, discussing the effect of multicellular morphogenesis on the production of shape. We conclude that such strategy is an adaptive design method in two ways: 1) the mechanics of design using morphological constrains involves a practice of dynamic and continuous negotiation between a design intent and material emergence. 2) The proposed design strategy hints at the production of a biologically produced architecture, which would potentially behave as a adaptive organism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ramirez-Figueroa C, Dade-Robertson M

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: ARCADIA 2013: Adaptive Architecture ; proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture

Year of Conference: 2013

Publisher: Riverside Architectural Press

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781926724225