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  • Between duck and tree: metabolism-informed composite tectonics

Beyer, Bastian, 2019, Thesis, Between duck and tree: metabolism-informed composite tectonics PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Architectural design and material innovation are reciprocally interconnected on multiple
levels. The advancement of manufacturing techniques and processes, as well as new material
qualities, open new performative and aesthetic prospects for architectural tectonics. Composite
materials have constantly reshaped the field of construction throughout architectural
history. The recent development of high-tech materials such as carbon- or glass-fibre has
introduced entirely new structural possibilities, albeit their environmental impact is an issue
of concern. The research therefore proposes alternative scenarios to utilise metabolisminformed
manufacturing processes and bio-derived materials for a new generation of fibrous
composites. This inquiry leads to a novel tectonic approach extending the expressive and
performative repertoire of architectural design. Concomitantly, the idea of a responsive
composite matrix investigates the emergent potential of material computation and biological
systems for the architectural domain.
Embedding microorganisms into architectural material systems allows to harness their distinct
characteristics and their structural metabolic by-produts, such as nano-cellulose or chitin
fibre. Their propagation and metabolism is, to a large degree, influenced by the specific
substrate and environment in which they develop. Textile systems present a suitable and, in the
context of architecture, relevant substrate material. Due to their microstructure and material
characterisitcs, natural fibres can facilitate the propagation of microbiological communities.
At the same time, fibrous systems offer wide range of fabrication techniques, such as winding,
weaving or knitting, which can be harnessed for distinct textile tectonics. Textile materials
allow the bridging of the scalar gap between the micro and the meso levels, and, combined
with their wide-ranging geometrical potential, present a unique opportunity for spatial
applications of biological systems.
The design and control of a distinct textile microbiome, with its distinct behaviour within a
textiles system, enables the development of metabolic matrices and novel multi-hierarchical
bio-composites. This underexplored class of materials can be utilised to generate material
gradients and time-based, reactive or/and self-organizing behaviour dependent on the
microbiome on a yarn level. Simultaneously they are offering a sustainable alternative
to conventional composite materials. While the notion of performance in the context of
building materials is generally reduced to solely structural characteristics, the concept aims to
acknowledge the distinct performativity of natural systems embedded into material systems,
which is explored in two distinct scenarios.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Technologies > J400 Polymers and Textiles > J420 Textiles Technology
Architecture > K100 Architecture
Architecture > K200 Building > K210 Building Technology
School or Centre: School of Design
Funders: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 642328.
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2019 11:45
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 11:45
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3966

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