Architecture That Grows Itself

Going beyond "biomimicry" and "bioinspiration", cutting edge research into "metabolic materials" has developed pseudo-cells whose behavior is animate, responsive, and constructive. In this short talk given by Rachel Armstrong for TED Talks, she discusses how a new species of synthetic "cells" have been developed to fix carbon as a very familiar material: limestone. Wait. You just have to watch and see for yourself.


EN: Venice is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.


ES: Venecia, en Italia, se está hundiendo. Para salvarla, Rachel Amstrong dice que necesitamos superar la arquitectura hecha de materiales inertes y hacer arquitectura que crezca por sí misma. Ella propone un material "no del todo vivo" que se hace sus propias reparaciones y, además, captura el carbono.



Metabolic Materials: Rachel Armstrong's hope is that, in the future, cities will be able to replace the energy they draw from the environment, respond to the needs of their populations and eventually become regarded as "alive" -- in the same way we think about parks or gardens. Since "metabolic materials" are made from terrestrial chemistry, they would not be exclusive to the developed world, and would have the potential to transform urban environments worldwide.

Multifaceted: A medical doctor, multi-media producer, science fiction author and arts collaborator. Rachel's current research explores architectural design and mythologies about new technology. She is working with scientists and architects to explore cutting-edge, sustainable technologies. Like and unlike the work of Jason de Caires Taylor, Rachel combines art with conservation in a way which is practical, inspired and seems obvious....but only after the fact - -  leaving a smile, a sense of wonder, and the question, "now why didn't anyone think of that before?"

"Scientists need to work outside their own areas of expertise to make new technologies that are pertinent to the 21st century and to collaborate, both with other scientific disciplines and the arts and humanities."
Rachel Armstrong
One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.
— Black Elk

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