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A visual exploration into organic architecture and biomaterials in a low carbon urban near-future.

Midjourney generative art exploration

In 2022, during a client project, I delved into the world of building renovation. Specifically, my research centered on the use of biosourced materials (rather than fossil fuel based) to renovate habitations but also unique and often delicate buildings.

As the façade of an old building plays a critical role in both its market value and identity, making it a particularly challenging area to preserve while insulating. To unpack these tensions, I played with a series of experiments exploring the intersection of biomimetics (or biomimicry), bio/geo-sourced materials, 3D printing and historical architectural styles. A tension between the past and the future.

Drawing inspiration from the groundbreaking work of Egyptian architect Hassan Ragab, my efforts were purely driven by a sensibility to speculative and exploratory research. This is more foresight than architecture.

Made with MidJourney V4. Coral images made with the V5.

The coral-color series was done more recently. I felt it should be with other similar images exploring more organic patterns and shapes and different materials, here from the sea.

This innovative material, a blend of algae-based resin with natural pigments derived from seafood waste, embodies the principles of sustainability, biodegradability, and carbon neutrality. It represents a significant step forward in the development of eco-friendly materials, offering a compelling alternative to traditional, petroleum-based plastics. I imagine incorporating chitin and chitosan, derived from the shells of crabs and prawns, this material taps into the vast potential of seafood waste. Chitin, a natural biopolymer found in the exoskeletons of these marine creatures, can be transformed into chitosan, a versatile compound known for its biodegradability and utility in creating pigments and films. This not only utilizes a byproduct of the seafood industry but also enhances the material’s environmental credentials through waste valorization.

3D printing allows for optimized material use by depositing material only where it is needed. This reduces waste and could significantly lower the carbon footprint of the renovation process.

Bio/geo-sourced materials can often be harvested locally, reducing the environmental impact associated with material transportation. Local materials also allow for an aesthetic that honors the existing structure and regional architectural history with inspiring and innovative additions.

Bio-composites often have good tensile strength and flexibility, which could make renovated structures more resilient to environmental stresses like wind or seismic activity.

The layer-by-layer construction process in 3D printing can produce airtight structures that are inherently more energy-efficient, minimizing heat loss through gaps or joins.

Organic and bio-based materials often have the added benefit of being non-toxic and more breathable than their synthetic counterparts, which could result in a healthier indoor environment.

Using bio-sourced materials like hemp or mycelium could positively affect the building’s life cycle assessment, as these materials often have lower embodied energy and are biodegradable.

Project gallery

This is a speculative design experiment using AI / Midjourney