This project developed and tested an innovative wall-panel system, growing microorganisms directly on its surface to prototype a new type of biologically receptive concrete to improve performance.
Computational Seeding of Bio-Receptive Materials is an interdisciplinary research project that brought together a design team with high expertise in architecture, biology and engineering. It developed and tested an innovative wall-panel system capable of growing microorganisms directly on its surface to prototype a new type of biologically receptive concrete that will improve façade performance. This system intends to overcome many of the limitations of existing green walls, particularly the need for mechanical irrigation systems and expensive maintenance.
Eighteen panels were exposed to 335-days of prevailing meteorological conditions in an urban environmental context measured by an on-site Automatic Weather Station (AWS), and assessed by sub-surface temperature and humidity meters, thermography and 3D LiDAR surveys to monitor algae and moss growth. The study established clear differences in material performance in terms of water retention and growth due to specific variables of surface geometries. A ‘Baroque’ panel allowed greater water retention due to increased panel surface and horizontal/diagonal geometry, while a ‘curtain’ type with vertical geometry resulted in the greatest water run-off.
This project responds to the urgency of improving the environmental quality of our cities. Climate change, increasing levels of pollution, and the loss of pervious surfaces within the urban fabric, call for greener and more sustainable cities, especially in the developed world. Current ‘green wall’ solutions have proved overly expensive and fail to address the increasing loss of cryptogamic cover surfaces (algae, mosses, lichens, etc.), which due to their scale have passed unnoticed in our cities. The adoption of biologically receptive concrete as a means of fostering green growth has the potential for the building’s façade itself to become the biological substratum for the growth of photosynthetic systems.
- External partners
Sandra Manso Blanco (Polytechnic University of Catalonia)
Funded by EPSRC research grant EP/N010108/1
- Image credits
1. St Annes Primary School wall panels for ‘Le Fabrique du Vivant’ exhibition at the Centre Pompidou.
2. St Annes Primary School wall: Axo with fixings
3. St Annes Primary School wall during manufacturing at Pennine Stone
4. St Annes Primary School wall: casting at Pennine Stone