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Living Architecture (LIAR): Metabolically engineered building units

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Armstrong, Simone Ferracina, Dr Gary Caldwell, Gimi Rimbu, Neil Phillips



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Buildings are often described in terms that infer they possess “life”. Architectural design, in the same spirit, frequently explores ideas about the living world, the body and nature – through various approaches to the construction and choreography of space. Yet, most buildings are constructed according to industrial paradigms based on inert materials, or materials that were formerly, but are no longer, “lively” such as wood, bricks, and soils, materials that are processed into inert forms obedient to top-down design processes. Living Architecture (LIAR) is conceived to produce standardized components (architectural, robotic, metabolic, and control software) as an operational unit of construction for an ecological era. Cultivated building materials offer potentials to adapt the living environment to meet the needs and desires of the occupants. Such a kind of functional architecture has not yet been built, but a consideration of its technical feasibility begins to outline some of the challenges. We anticipate such a structure to take the shape of bioreactor walls that can be installed in open environments within modern buildings. LIAR is based on the operational principles of microbial communities activating both microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and photo bioreactors as new environments. These biological components are metabolically engineered to deliver specified biochemical and systematic functions. LIAR is conceived to become an integral component of human dwellings capable of extracting valuable resources from light, wastewater, and flue gas/exhaust air. It is to polish wastewater, generate oxygen, and produce useable biomass, fertilizer, and electrical power. As a self-learning, self-governing system it will adapt to local conditions, thereby maintaining high system efficiencies by selectively manipulating consortia performance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Armstrong R, Ferracina S, Caldwell G, Ieropoulos I, Rimbu G, Adamatzky A, Phillips N, De Lucrezia D, Imhof B, Hanczyc MM, Nogales J, Garcia J

Editor(s): Heisel, F; Hebel, D

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Cultivated Building Materials: Industrialized Natural Resources for Architecture and Construction

Year: 2017

Pages: 170-177

Print publication date: 01/06/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Publisher: Birkhauser

Place Published: Berlin, Germany


Notes: Publication due May 2017

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783035608922