Sustainable Buildings of the Americas – Sep 2016

I had the pleasure of attending the Sustainable Built Environment Conference put on by Sustainable Buildings Canada last week and as I listened closely to all of the keynotes, one stood out to me and caused me to feel immense inspiration.

You have a building made of concrete steel and glass, which is  an inanimate object of course. In present day world, we spend large amount of money (in energy) adding fresh air and water to each building to ensure that occupant comfort. However, what happens if we begin to construct buildings from living materials or use nature to show us how to construct ourbuilding materials.

This is exactly what the field of Biological Fabrication is all about. The project called Silk Pavilion run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) uses good ole silk worms to determine the exact patterns that a CNC machine (similar to a 3D printer) should follow in replicating that structure.

Silk recreated by a CNC machine in the Silk Pavilion. Image credit: ArchDaily

If you look at what the CNC machine has done, you might think of some type of wool that can almost be used as a building insulation material. Now think of another concept which is where building materials that respond to climate. Hygroskin, whcih is a material derived from plywood, has pours that open and close based on climate.

Hygroskin. Image credit: ArchDaily

Hygroskin is a load-bearing metereosensitive skin and I think it will be a very interesting next few years in this industry … where our building materials are naturally fabricated, require no energy to operate and automatically respond to climate.