Living Architecture

metabolic apps for transforming our habitats from inert spaces into programmable sites

April 2016 – June 2019
European Union – Horizon 2020 (EU-H2020) research project, FET-Open

Living Architecture is a next-generation, selectively-programmable bioreactor. It is envisioned as an integral component of human dwelling in the future, capable of extracting valuable resources from light, wastewater and air and in turn, generating small amounts of electricity and oxygen, lots of biomass, and serves as a method for the recovery of valuable nutrients found in waste streams, such as phosphate. Furthermore, the system treats waste streams generated in buildings, reducing the amount of total waste that would need to be processed by municipal facilities.

The freestanding partition composed of standardized bioreactor building blocks can be incorporated into common building construction methods. The bioreactor unit is prototyped based on the operational principles of Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) technology, Photobioreactors, and Synthetic Microbial Consortia (SMC). The outcome consists of two building blocks: one, a programmed and configured MFC to produce electricity, and the other, an SMC to purify air and wastewater.

With continuous improvements made to these very promising technologies, Living Architecture can, in the future, become a form of customizable, programmable micro-agriculture for building installation in domestic, public and office environments. The technology could potentially address global-scale challenges of urban sustainability and resource management.

Executive Summary (pdf)

Consortium partners  University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Institute for Sustainability – United Kingdom / University of the West of England, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Environment and Technology – Unconventional Computing Centre (UCG), Bristol – United Kingdom / BioEnergy Centre, Bristol – United Kingdom / Bristol Robotics Lab, Bristol – United Kingdom / Spanish National Research Council / Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas  – The Biological Research Centre, Department of Environmental Biology – Spain / LIQUIFER Systems Group – Austria / EXPLORA BIOTECH – Italy / University of Trento (University Degli Studi di Trento), Centre for Integrative Biology – Italy

LIQUIFER team   Waltraut Hoheneder, Barbara Imhof, René Waclavicek, Molly Hogle, Angelo Vermeulen, Damjan Minovski

Image credit: Living Architecture Consortium