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BIO_reCLAIM [BrC]: bio-computationDecember 15, 2015

This project sets BiorockTM as a pretext for investigating the capacities to construct a growing system to transform the brownfield urban domain. Speculating on the possibilities of Biorock as an organism for recovering brownfields of polluted wetlands. The biological organism will be controlled to a physical system growing from the polluted ecosystem, providing a source of tangibility to the public, educating and quantifying the direct extent of disturbance caused by polluting the environment. The active space will be a dynamic platform for the public to interact and learn of the challenges facing the cities environment. The by-product will be the harmonious cleansing of toxic chemicals from the waters generating a source of energy and promoting the emergence of organic life.  


Previous experiments by Wolf H. Hilbertz(1) used the electro-accumulation of minerals in the restoration of coral reefs and revitalisation of sea life. Hilbertz trade-marked the accreted substance as ‘Biorock’. Our aim is to first understand and experiment within the material limits of BiorockTM as an active urban application. We do this by controlling the accumulation process and devising a physical system which we can bio-computationally manipulate to suit our purpose.  Bio-computational research in geometric formations leads to bones as a model for developing a biologically responsive material. Similar to bones, BiorockTM substance is a dynamic system that is able to repair itself after functional failures. Bone, regenerates and calcifies according to the external stimuli that is applied, resulting in the re-organizing of organic material which is distributed to a geometric output. Scientific research informs us that there are certain environmental conditions required to successfully generate electrodeposited minerals in seawater. The key minerals required for optimum growth are calcium phosphates, also present in greywater runoff. We conducted a series of controlled experiments with this mineral content and bone substratum, carefully varying the the control parameters, to  produce the optimum growth suitable for full scale urban recovery and activation.


Like all things in nature, a predisposition of the project is that it should have multifunctional uses and applications. It should not affect only its immediate context, but also have repercussions on various bio-spheres within its surroundings. Therefore, the final application is not only for the recovery and cleansing but also as an opportunity for the activation of abandoned polluted areas. How can the project instill a culture of change within the area through the direct engagement with the community? What we are proposing is the planting of a seed or a catalyst, an architectural intervention having “greater purpose than to merely provide a destination or improve the appearance of an element that is shaped by the context in which it is placed, and should in turn shape that context, with the purpose of reviving the urban fabric…it should a stand-alone element, but rather an element within a framework that guides future development”. We can extrapolate the potential structural properties through the upscale of our prototype experiments as well as the combination of findings from Hilbertz’s “electrodeposition of minerals in sea water” - who managed to obtain structural properties attaining strength and hardness that is three times of that found in concrete, in a span of 2-5 years depending on varying environmental conditions. The structure can be heterozygotic, not attaining to a particular design/functional property in mind, but is able to adapt on the occupancy behaviour of the community, fostering opportunities for the exchange of ideas and activities.



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