An Urban Photo-Bioreactor

Sphira is a multi-scalar apparatus urban photobioreactor that focuses on bringing public attention to the portable cultivation and innovative consumption of spirulina. By combining a working urban  photobioreactor with the modern gastronomy process of spherification, this study seeks to find the best possible solution to an edible sphere by product.

This fully automated device controlled by an interactive mobile application produces spheres containing high concentrations of live spirulina mixed with organic juices and Cannabis terpenes. By having a closed system with precise nutrient controls our bioreactor attempts to produce spirulina void of flavour whilst maintaining optimum nutrition. This allows us to add various components such as juices and terpenes to a concentrated spirulina solution that can then be formed into edible spheres.




By exposing internal functions and accentuating mechanical processes, Sphira will develop a commentary on the adaptability and integration of cell-mimicry in tangible, functional objects. This study will highlight the importance of multi- cell relationships working as a cohesive unit by incorporating varying glass containers within a stream-lined apparatus. In driving attention towards the process of spherification as a method of consuming spirulina the Sphira APP will also function as way to distribute spirulina cultures to new Sphira apparatuses whilst encouraging users to form
communities discussing varying terpene and flavour combinations.


Sphira’s design aims to short cut the spirulina urban production loop with the domestication of growth and production in the hands of the consumer. This will subsequently cut out the “middleman” as well as reduce the carbon footprint resultant from the energies expended in global production and transportation of the micro-algae.

Terpene Flavours & Aroma

In order to further hack the flavour of spirulina we have incorporated cannabis terpenes to develop an aromatic complexity. Terpenes are pungent oils that are secreted from various plants, conifers, and cannabis with distinctive flavours ranging from berries, citrus, mint and pine. We have chosen cannabis due to its almost endless variety of terpenes with over 100 unique varieties already found in the plant. Cannabis uses terpenes for adaptive purposes attracting pollinators and deterring predators. For Sphira, it is an addition that excites taste and smell receptors before consuming the nutritious spheres.



Website and Smartphone Application

On our website you can find more information about the project; From the history, scientific data of the study, image gallery, animations and videos that show the process and the operation of the Sphira device.

Click here to go to the Sphira Landing Page and Smartphone App

We also provide a smartphone application you can download and install from our webpage, that works as a guide and control device for the apparatus, thus proving the integration with everyday users.


Booklet Guide

Through experiments revolving around the production to consumption of spirulina we have explored the viability of Sphira as a closed ecosystem with the resultant being a nutritious flavour hacked superfood. The morphology strives for an apparatus that mimics cell structures in nature through cohesive symbiotic relationships. By highlighting the apparatus’ advanced technological attributes, individual mechanisms, and playful spirulina byproduct, Sphira attempts to develop a commentary on the possibilities of a microcosmic food generating system in an urban context.

 SPHIRA is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
 Developed at: MAA01 2017-2018 Master in Advanced Architecture, Introductory Studio
 Students: Mario Alberto Espinoza, Eduardo Chamorro, Timothy Magara, Elliott Santos
 Faculty :Claudia Pasquero Carmelo Zappulla