The Bartlett School of Architecture


Innovative Bio-Integrated Design Wins Water Futures Design Challenge

25 April 2019

‘Indus’, a bio-integrated design proposal by the Bio-ID Lab, has won the A/D/O Mini Water Futures Design Challenge, in the Future Systems and Infrastructure category.

Close-up of 'Indus', a a tile-based, modular bioreactor wall system by Bio Integrated Design researchers at UCL

An interdisciplinary team led by Dr Brenda Parker, Professor Marcos Cruz and Shneel Malik, created ‘Indus’, a tile-based, modular bioreactor wall system, based on the principle of bioremediation. The structure is designed to hold algae-laden hydrogel for cleaning heavy materials from wastewater.

Inspired by the architecture of a leaf, water flows over a series of vein-like channels containing algae prepared in a seaweed-based hydrogel. Pollutants such as cadmium are sequestered by the algae and the hydrogel can then be processed to recover heavy metals safely. 

The project meets the need for a simple, scalable and a sustainable system that can treat heavy metal contaminated wastewater on a local level.
Indus was displayed at the A/D/O exhibition space in New York, earlier this month and voting is now open for the public to support their favourite proposal.

Project credits


Dr Brenda Parker, Professor Marcos Cruz and Shneel Malik in partnership with Grymsdyke Farm, UK.

Scientific advisors
  • Dr. Laura Stoffels and Arran Finlan, Department of Biochemical Engineering, UCL
  • Dr. Vandana Mishra and Deepak Rawat, Delhi University, India
Ceramic manufacturing
  • Grymsdyke Farm, UK
  • Fettle Studio, UK
  • Local artisans in Khurja, India
Special thanks to
  • Promila Sharma and David Hanrahan, Pure Earth
  • Reema Banerjee, CEE, India
  • Anthony Acciavatti, Columbia University 
Site visits
  • Jur, Howrah District, Kolkata, India
  • Textile Dyers, HUDA Industrial Area, Sec 29, Panipat, India
Visual editing

Martyna Marciniak


1. A close-up of ‘Indus’ wall
2. A close-up of the algae-laden hydrogel used in 'Indus'
3. ‘Indus’ on display in New York
4. A render showing ‘Indus’ installed in the courtyard of a small-scale textile dying industry in India