The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bio-ID project nominated for Beazley Designs of the Year 2020

12 November 2020

Indus, a project developed in the Bio-ID lab, has been nominated for the Design Museum’s Beazley Designs of the Year 2020.

Surface detail of Indus 2.0 tiles

The competition celebrates the best of design across architecture, product, fashion, digital, transport and graphic design, and the public can vote on the entries on the Design Museum website. Indus was nominated in the Product category for its work which addresses the increasingly pressing challenge of water pollution. Indus is designed to enable rural artisan communities to regenerate water for reuse within their manufacturing processes.

Indus is a biologically integrated wall, designed using computational algorithms to create ceramic scaffolds which contain microalgae for bioremediation of polluted water. In a system of interlocking modular tiles, vein-like channels are pressed into clay – inspired by the architectural form of leaves, whose surfaces distribute water evenly – and filled with a seaweed-based hydrogel with microalgae suspended in it. Computational fluid simulations further optimise the water distribution throughout the structure, enabling a more efficient algae-wastewater contact. As waste water flows over the tiles, the microalgae, which can remain active for up to several months, extract heavy metals like cadmium. The reusable tiles can be removed one by one to be maintained and refilled with fresh hydrogel. 

The project lead, Shneel Malik, is pursuing her doctoral research on Viscous Boundaries: Algae-laden Scaffolds for the Built Environment. Her PhD supervisors, Dr. Brenda Parker and Prof. Marcos Cruz, are programme directors for the Bio-Integrated Design March/MSc, on which Shneel is also an Interdisciplinary Design Tutor. The Bio-ID Lab is a multi-disciplinary space which combines the expertise and academic excellence of The Bartlett and UCL Engineering.

It’s a real honour to be nominated for this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year. We took this exhibition as an opportunity to evolve and showcase a new iteration of the Project Indus, in anticipation of conducting in situ pilot tests in the near future.

- Shneel Malik


Vimeo Widget Placeholderhttps://vimeo.com/471898126

Indus is on display at the Design Museum until 28 March 2021. A second design iteration of the project, Indus 2.0, was produced for the exhibition. 

Project credits

Team – Shneel Malik, Dr. Brenda Parker, Prof. Marcos Cruz
Bio-Integrated Design Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Fabrication support / Ceramicist Richard Miller, Froyle Tiles, UK
With the support of Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Activate Fund, UK 2020; UCL Innovation & Enterprise, launch competition UK 2019; EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund, UK 2017. 
NGO Support from Pure Earth, India & Centre for Environment Education, India.

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