Living Materials and their application in Architecture | THESIS


Today we are seeing that the linear manufacturing method – the extraction, making and disposal – of material goods, is having significant environmental implications. Generally, within western architecture, there has been a leaning towards material permanence, dating back to antiquity (Vitruvius’ firmitas). The manufacture and disposal of permanent materials, such as concrete and steel has contributed to emissions that are causing climate change, thus radically polluting our planet. This has prompted many to look for new material solutions that are in symbiosis with the environment. 

In this thesis I investigate the application of ‘living materials’ in architecture, and their potential to radically transform the sustainability of the material manufacturing process, due to their low (often renewable) energy use in production, biodegradability and biological manufacturing processes that have the potential to be non-polluting. I will explore three key paradigms: ‘primary’ growth materials, ‘secondary’ growth materials and metabolic materials (see the next section for details). 


As my dissertation was an investigation of the application of living materials in architecture, I wanted to frame each chapter, focused on a different material, in the way conventional material swatches would be presented. The front cover of each chapter is designed to look like a material swatch, therefore when the reader picks up each chapter it subtly frames each living material as a more tangible material concept. Each living material was discussed through the notion of paradigms, and I coded each chapter as if it were part of a material coding system, e.g “P.1 CHAPT. 2. Primary Growth: Mycelium” to stay true to the notion of material application in Architecture.

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