BIT.BIO.BOT installation creates architectural system to cultivate micro-algae in the urban realm

Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, founders of ecoLogicStudio, in partnership with Synthetic Landscape Lab at Innsbruck University and Urban Morphogenesis Lab at the Bartlett UCL, presents BIT.BIO.BOT. The exhibit is an immersive experiment in the domestic cultivation of the microalgae through advanced architectural systems. The installation is a collection of systems which could enable in future the cultivation of microalgae in the urban realm at the scale of individual dwellings.

The project focuses on naturally occurring blue-green microalgae which are among the oldest living organisms on Earth, and through biological intelligence and photosynthesis are able to convert solar radiation into actual oxygen and biomass with unrivalled efficiency.

BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti
BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Caption
BIT.BIO.BOT diagram
ecoLogicStudio | Concept diagram
BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti

The installation assembles advanced architecture with microbiology to build an artificial habitat, that absorbs carbon dioxide and oxygenates a house more effectively than common plants while encouraging ‘city-dwellers’ daily direct interactions with Nature.

"BIT.BIO.BOT contributes to questioning and re-designing some of the logics which led us to the current health crisis. If we, collectively, daily and locally, will contribute to transforming air pollutants and water contaminants into highly nutritious aliments, there will be fewer opportunities for unbalanced viral ecologies to exploit unsustainable food supply chains and polluted atmospheres to reach our organism and cause us harm," asserts Claudia Pasquero, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio.

The studio explains further, “The advanced architectural system on show at the Corderie is the result of 10 years of bio-digital design research, developed by ecoLogicStudio and combining computational design strategies (BIT) with proprietary fabrication techniques (BOT) to implement a collective microbiological cultivation protocol (BIO).” 

The architectural system on display are mimicking fundamental architectural environment found in an urban dwelling; the living cladding, the vertical garden and the convivium. The experiment looks to replace three key architectural elements with a collection of system to enable cultivation of microalgae in urban setting while bringing Nature back to our homes.

The living cladding is designed as three metres high and one-metre-wide curtains, digitally welded to form internal cavity capable of containing seven litres of microalgae cultures. Composed of 10 PhotoSynthEtica curtains, the installation is exploring the limits between indoors and outdoors. Composed in morphological pattern inspired by the surrounding brick walls, the articulation increases the interaction between microalgae growth in the bio-gel medium, and the environment, as well as their screening and shading potential.

BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti
BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti
BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti

The vertical garden, located between living cladding and convivium, is composed of three-metre-tall reversible stainless steel structure, dedicated to an intensive model of vertical algae. It hosts 15 Bio-Bombolas, which are proprietary domestic algae garden system developed during the first COVID -19 lockdown, by ecoLogicStudio. (We did a detailed story on Bio-Bombolas, which you can read here.)

Apart from producing one hundred grams of biomass, which is the daily recommended protein intake for a family of four, the vertical garden also absorbs CO2 at a rate equals to three large mature trees. The idea behind this is to encourage biomass production as a source of protein but also improve air quality in our homes through this mechanism.

“Each phase of the project, including its conception, fabrication, cultivation and post-Biennale re-functionalisation, will contribute to this overall experiment in co-existence – among us humans, and within an extended milieu of non-human systems,” says Dr Marco Poletto. 

The third component known as convivium is meant as a space for sharing, featuring 36 unique pieces of crystal glassware on top of 2x2 metre table, focusing on the future of food production. The installation again focuses on consumption of the freshly harvested Chlorella and Spirulina cells, both of which are among the most nutritious organisms on Earth. The glassware is designed by ecoLogicStudio and 3D printed by Swarovski with its groundbreaking glass printing technology.

BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti
BIT.BIO.BOT exhibit at venice architecture biennale 2021
Marco Cappelletti

“Each piece is made of delicately-fused glass layers – arranged in a matrix that algorithmically follows the morphogenesis of microalgae cells, thus generating a variety of visual patterns. These will offer a multiplicity of opportunities to observe, transform and taste microalgae as part of a new culinary landscape,” the studio told Design City.

Designed to be fully reversible, at the end of the Biennale in November 2021, the installation will be relocated to Tyrolean landscape, to become the core of educational and harvesting activities within the local community, centred on the topic of future food.

BIT.BIO.BOT aims to bring high tech cultivation process into an urban home without any complexity. The simplicity of set-up and use is the key to this process while developing an alternate method of bringing Nature closer to our cities.

 


ABOUT ECOLOGICSTUDIO

ecoLogicStudio is an international architectural and urban design studio specialized in bio-digital design. ecoLogicStudio is now part of a design innovation consortium that includes academic partners Urban Morphogenesis Lab at UCL London and the Synthetic Landscape Lab at the University of Innsbruck.

Co-founded in London in 2005 by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, the studio has built an international reputation for its innovative projects integrating systemic thinking, computational design, biotechnology and digital prototyping. This “broadened” approach to design, ranging from the micro to the global scales, is embodied into an experimental practice where each project becomes a laboratory, a real test bed of future models of inhabitation of the Urbansphere.

Completed projects include several installations and experimental  pavilions, a public library and a private house, a large eco-roof as well as several urban blue-green planning proposals.

Among the most prominent installations is the HORTUS XL for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, 2019; the metaFolly for the 9th Archilab, 2014, and “Les Jardins fluviaux de la Loire” for the First Biennale of Orleans, 2017; HORTUS Paris for the EDF Foundation, 2013, and HORTUS ZKM for Globale, 2016 and SuperTree for Futurium Berlin, 2018. ecoLogicStudio was repeatedly invited to feature its work at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, in 2008 with STEMv3.0 the lagoon experiment, in 2010 with The Ecological Footprint Grotto and in 2016 with Solana Open Aviary. Other major exhibitions are STEMcloud for the Seville Biennale 2008, and Fibrous Room in Istanbul 2008.

Three major experimental pavilions have been recently completed, the Urban Algae Folly for Milan EXPO2015, the BIO.tech HUT for EXPO Astana2017 and UAF Aarhus, for Aarhus Capital of Culture 2017. ecoLogicStudio has also completed the first bio-digital photosynthetic building facade, installed in Dublin in 2018.

The projects “metaFolly” and "Les Jardins fluviaux de la Loire" are both now part of the celebrated permanent collection of the FRAC Center in Orleans, while HORTUS has been purchased by the ZKM in Karlsruhe. HORTUS ZKM has also won the prestigious Idea-Tops Award as best digital architecture, while bioTech.HUT was finalist at the World Architecture Festival in 2018. The PhotoSynthEtica cladding system has received the Award of Excellence from the European Commission in 2018.

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