Is This the Future of Living Walls?
22. February 2019
A "living sculpture" on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris consists of oxygen-producing bacteria inserted into a 3D-printed substructure. Could this be the next generation of living walls that adorn buildings?
Location: La fabrique du vivant, Centre Pompidou, Paris
ecoLogicStudio Project Team: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto, Konstantinos Alexopoulos, Matteo Baldissarra, Michael Brewster
Research Partner (biological, 3d printed systems and production development): Synthetic Landscape Lab, IOUD, Innsbruck University; Photosynthetica consortium
IOUD Project Team: Prof. Claudia Pasquero, Maria Kuptsova, Terezia Greskova, Emiliano Rando, Jens Burkart, Niko Jabadari, Simon Posch
Research Partner (3d printed systems and production development): CREATE Group / WASP Hub Denmark - University of Southern Denmark (SDU)
SDU Project Team: Prof. Roberto Naboni, Furio Magaraggia
Engineering: YIP structural engineering, Manja Van De Vorp
Materials: 3d printed substratum, micro-algae in biogel medium
Microalgal Medium Material Support: Ecoduna AG
3D Printing Material Support: Extrudr
H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g is one of two sculptures by London's ecoLogicStudio that is on display in La fabrique du vivant at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g – Hortus for short – is a "collaboration" with colonies of photosynthetic cyanobacteria, while the other piece, XenoDerma, was created with a collective of Asian Fawn Tarantula, making it reminiscent of Tomás Saraceno's "cosmic webs." Hortus, the focus here, is particularly impressive, given its size, the way visitors can move inside it, and the potential applications of its bio-technology.
ecoLogic's two contributions ("thick biophilic architectural skins receptive to urban life," in their words) respond to the curators' assertion that "in the digital era, a new interaction is emerging between creation and the fields of life science, neuroscience and synthetic biology." The studio – working with Innsbruck University - Synthetic Landscape Lab, CREATE Group / WASP Hub Denmark - University of Southern Denmark – basically designed and 3D-printed an armature for the cyanobacteria, which obtain their energy through photosynthesis and produce oxygen in the process. The bacteria's name hints at their blue-green color, accentuated in Hortus by the whiteness of the 3D-printed substructure.
A statement from ecoLogic explains the complex process of making the piece and hints at its applications:
Living walls are nothing new, but the typical approach – plants growing in a medium – is heavy and high on maintenance. Hortus, on the other hand, has a relatively lightweight armature, while the cyanobacteria theoretically only need sunlight to survive and thrive. The interface of the two in Hortus is quite beautiful: highly structured yet flowing, punctuated by the nodes where the cyanobacteria are fed into the substructure. While I doubt we'll see this "new form of bio-digital architecture" popping up on facades in the near future (I'd love to be proved wrong!), it's exciting to consider that some of today's most pressing concerns have architectural solutions.