Building with Bacterial Cellulose

Jovana Randjelovic, Architecture

Winner, GSA’s Sustainability in Action Group Degree Show Prize 2016

As a result the proposal critically examines urban systems of stasis, such as those we are presently accustomed to, identifying them as inherently vulnerable to collapses caused by divergences from their intended equilibriums. The proposal responds to the inefficacies of these conventions by establishing a fully metabolic, soft, system employing the cyclical interactions between architectural growth and decay.

The decision to employ Bacterial Cellulose, a grown algae-generated material, as the driver behind this architectural proposal is a response to what the 1970’s architectural historian Wolfe Hilbertz identified as the progression of adaptive systems. Such systems represent an effective means of urban cooperation with its volatile undercurrents. Ongoing project-based research into the material potential of BC have shown it to coincide with Hilbertz’s stages of material development.

Ultimately, the project argues that in order to increase the efficacy of presenting such a radically different means of habitation, it must be done as a dialogue rather than a definitive architectural emblem. As a result this dialogue has been framed as a material narrative- spanning from BC’s most rudimentary applications, to its most hyper-technical variants.

Had the project approached the topic from a lens focused on a definitive design outcome, it would have, arguably, fallen into the very same systems of stasis of which it is a critic. Instead, the project proposes a spectrum of potential applications, each servicing the public in its own unique way. In doing so aspiring to demonstrate how the implementation of such a material, one easily harvested and readily available, can foster agency even amongst the most marginalised of a city’s citizens.

Ultimately the project serves to promote a system of habitation that is not derived from historic precepts but rather biological ones. There are many ways in which our understandings of urbanism have done us a disservice, as they have not presented us with an adequate means of absorbing and adapting to perturbations.

The intent of the proposal is not to advocate for a schism between old and new, past and future; but rather to create a continually developing bridge between all such elements as a means of guarding them from unnecessary obsolescence.

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