Nano, Micro, Macro: BioFabrication

Rapid global climate change has lent new urgency to our longstanding interest of growing materials to break the unstainable reality of material extraction, use and landfill. Today’s new buildings can be designed and built to operate without using fossil fuels, without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, but their construction threatens to remain a growing source of carbon emissions. Can biological materials provide the answer? This seminar will explore biologically derived material systems ranging from plants and plant fibers to fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms. Our focus will be on buildings and consumer products, with consideration of the larger landscape and geographical scale. Through in-class lectures, case studies, and hands-on workshops, students will be exposed to some of the new biomaterials that are being developed at the intersection of material science, biology, and design. Other lectures will trace the impact of these material systems on the climate, explore the landscapes of production and their ecologies. The seminar will explore the embodied impacts of our material world and take a critical look at the production of bio-based materials and their geochemical flows. Students will explore various ways of fabricating prototypes with these biomaterials, seeking to understand how new regimes of real-time sensing may be overlaid onto these methods to gain new insights into the material. Students will be required to develop a term project of their choosing in teams relating to issues raised in the course at any scale – be it new material development, new fabrication processes, the design of a circular material economy, or an investigation into landscapes of production. Students from all GSD departments as well as from across the University are encouraged to enroll.