Built to Grow - Blending architecture and biology

Opening 12 October, 2015, 6 pm
Exhibition 13 October –7 November 2015

Imagine a house that grows through biological and technological processes: a house that finds its site through self organisation, that can be used while it is growing, and is able to adapt to the climate; a house that continues to grow when more space or a stronger structure are needed, a house that doesn’t produce any waste, and can decompose itself once it has reached the end of its life cycle. The research project GrAB – Growing As Building explores this idea through an interdisciplinary team involving the fields of architecture, biology, art, mechatronics, and robotics. The aim of the project is to bridge the differences between biological and technological growth principles and to create proto-architectonic examples of a new living architecture. Starting from architectural visions, role models from nature were strategically investigated. A Biolab served as research platform for experimentation with organisms such as slime mould, mushroom mycelium and algae, and for implementation of biological paradigms into architectural solutions. Principles from biology such as self organisation, hierarchical order of material at different scales, and cyclic metabolic systems were transferred to specific architectural concepts. Moreover, in order to produce this new kind of differentiated and adaptive structures, technologies for 3D printing were used and developed further. Excerpts from a conversation among different experts about agency, emergence and resilience, and a discussion about the immanent values and ethical aspects of this research are presented to contextualize the work within our world of change.


Panel discussion
12 October, 2015, 6 pm
Moderation: Barbara Imhof

Rachel Armstrong, experimental architecture, Newcastle University, School of Architecture, UK

Petra Gruber, biomimetics, architecture, Ethiopian Institute of
Architecture, Building Construction and City Development, Addis Ababa University, ET

Angelo Vermeulen, art, ecology, Delft University of Technology, Participatory Systems Initiative, NL

Thomas Speck, biology, University of Freiburg,, Botanischer Garten, Plant Biomechanics Group, DE

Project leads: Barbara Imhof, Petra Gruber, Waltraut Hoheneder 

Researchers: Viktor Gudenus, Damjan Minovski, Angelo Vermeulen, Tanja Oberwinkler 

Student researchers: Ceren Yönetim, Rafael Sanchez, Laura Mesa, Andreas Körner, Mohammedneja Shikur, Mariya Korolova, Atanas Zhelev, Ioana Binica, Alexander Nanu 

Expert advisors: Thomas Speck, Julian Vincent 

We would further like to extend our gratitude to the following people who supported the project GrAB:

Rector of the Angewandte: Gerald Bast 

Project coordination at Angewandte: Alexander Damianisch, Angelika Zelisko, Wiebke Miljes 

Studio Greg Lynn, University of Applied Arts: Greg Lynn, Bence Bap, Parsa Khalili, Maja Ozvadic 

Institute of Architecture: Klaus Bollinger, Roswitha Janowski-Fritsch, Sabine Perternell 

Angewandte Innovation Laboratory: Alexandra Graupner 

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