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Title: Between duck and tree : metabolism-informed composite tectonics
Author: Beyer, Bastian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 6176
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: European Union's Horizon 2020
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: J420 Textiles Technology ; K100 Architecture ; K210 Building Technology