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Biopolymers for Responsive Architectural Scaffolds

Rethinking Firmitas

By Andrea Ling, edited by Philip Beesley

This folio presents the results of a series of chemical experiments for creating biopolymers that might be developed as architectural building materials. By working with biologically derived materials the experiments explore the possibility of an architecture based on a dynamic system of decay and renewal as a means to longevity rather than solidity and durability of construction.

Organic materials such as casein, chitosan, cellulose and pectin decay more quickly than traditional construction materials, but what they lack in robustness and solidity, they make up for in resilience, flexibility and accommodation. Their fragile mutability presents an opportunity to rethink what can be made durable and what is maintained. Could we rethink the concept of firmitas not as a static condition of robustness, but as a dynamic state, based on many weak redundant members that are dependent on renewal for longevity? Can we support an alternative mode of design practice where the process of making things is not only consumptive but also provisional and that works in symbiosis with natural systems rather than trying to subjugate them?

The LASG Folio series consists of work-in-progress reports and publications by LASG researchers and contributors.

Riverside Architectural Press
Print, 17pp, 2019