For several of us, urban dwelling stimulates the longing for greenery and fresh air. An ecologically balanced built environment can reduce stress, influence our mood and immune system. The desire for nature needs to be satisfied. Maybe Biomorphic Living Screens (BLS) can satisfy the need for greenery. Curious about what it might be?
Designed by Daniel Inocente and Hooman Koliji from Creo, Biomorphic Living Screen promotes poly-cultural ecosystems in urban environments. The researchers aim to develop a balanced and sustainable built environment through a combination of structure and ecology which meets ecological and psychological demands. “Natural urban ecologies are becoming thinner and increasingly fragile.” Daniel Inocente reminds us.
Engineered microbiomes are intended to minimize the use of space compared to parks or green corridors, which require relative ample space and land – definitely expensive and rare in cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, or Paris. Through repetition and network growth across the city, micro-biomes promote an expanded web of urban ecology in symbiosis with existing ecological system in a given context.
Micro-biomes correspond to a range of forms, scales, functions, and technologies, providing individual nodes to a web of spatial ecologies in public spaces (Daniel Inocente)
An important element of this envisaged self-sustaining urban ecosystem is an aerated composite with a porous structure. It’s an ideal habitat for macro and micro cells – an adequate basis for keeping nutrients in place and cultivating a flora and fauna ecosystem. According to the designer, the microcells will be coated with a combination of growth agents, plant seeds, moss, and nutrients. A diversity of plant species, irrigated by misting nozzles, will be a living space for insects and birds.
“I am interested in innovations at the intersection of design and ecology to create new forms of spatial ecologies.” Hooman Koliji says. “As an educator, I am very interested to see notions grow, and living processes present in the design in at a fundamental level and in a cohesive fashion. We envision that the Eco-Screen project can provide an integrated solution for the built environment to address ecological design in innovative ways.” he adds.
“The increased integration of scientific knowledge into digital environments is enabling designers to investigate materials in novel ways.” emails Daniel Inocente. “The understanding of material behaviors made possible by decades of research is leading us to rethink how we approach material applications in design and architecture. Biological systems are complex and unpredictable, that is why our design aims to materialize certain behaviors in growth to find the synergies between active and inactive materials.” he adds.
The designers of Biomorphic Living Screen state:
This project investigates the effects of computational modeling and simulation on composite material structures which undergo fluid to solid states, with the digital environment used a validation tool for analysis and optimal material distribution. The goal of the project is to produce a series of intricately designed living wall systems which will be composed of fluid cement composites, testing various add agents for introducing increased aeration, water retention, and structural behaviors. The topology of the wall system is meant to enhance its function as a host for various species of plants and organisms coexisting within the network of cavities. The effect of the solidified composite on the living organisms will be one of symbiosis, where the designed wall behaves as a framework for optimizing the growth and maintenance of any organisms inhabiting this wall.
For the elaboration of Biomorphic Living Screen, Hooman Koliji and Daniel Inocente applied recursive growth and topological optimization tools. “The responsive materialization of our models propose to synthesize digital models with physical constructions and introduces these workflows to real living systems to discover novel ways of informing performative biomorphic design.”
Daniel Inocente is a lead designer and researcher at HKS in Washington DC, where he is also a member of HKS|LINE (Laboratory for INtensive Exploration). His work involves computational research and the development of design methodologies that lead to interdisciplinary exchanges within the field of architecture. He gained work experience in the field of design, science, and engineering, leading him to seek out approaches to problem-solving which challenge the role of technology in Architecture.
His past professional experience includes working at Gehry Partners and Gehry Technologies, where he focused on parametric modeling strategies, analysis, technologies research and geometric rationalization methods for façade systems. Inocente maintains the notion that biological systems are complex and unpredictable, that is why Biomorphic Living Screen aims to materialize certain behaviors in growth to find the synergies between active and inactive materials.
Hooman Koliji, Ph.D. is a designer, author, and educator. Hooman is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Maryland, where he explores innovations at the intersection of architecture and landscape design and technology. As an educator, he seeks to address notions grow, living processes, and technology in the design pedagogy at a fundamental level and through system thinking. As a Director at Creo, a design innovation company, Hooman seeks to link technology, experience design, and spatial design in the built environment. Koliji’s design research on Biomorphic Living Screen envisions an integrated solution for the built environment to address ecological design for the future of the built environment.
Several serious projects are concerned with making dense cities greener. For example, Hyperions and Magic Breeze in India, Drivhus in Stockholm or The Green Wall from Adam Kalinowski incorporate plants in different ways and provide environmental and aesthetic solutions and benefits. Recently, the University of the West of England unveiled its energy generating and wastewater recycling smart living bricks. It is possible to create bioreactor walls with them. Even the San Francisco Planning Commission seems to be aware and requires to build 30 percent of roof space as green roofs, or a combination of green roofs and solar panels.
We thank Daniel Inocente and Hooman Koliji for the provision of images and accompanying information.