SE.8 – Elective Seminar
Digital Bio System
Digital fabrication and biological synthesis for circular design

Faculty: Chiara Farinea, Mohamad El Atab
Teaching assistants: Federica Ciccone, Nusrat Tabassum

Urban artifacts and living systems are commonly treated as two separate domains, however, the convergence of biotechnology and information technology applied to design has the potential to deal with sustainability challenges representing a promising future.

Digital fabrication is opening new perspectives in terms of innovative design. Moreover, the implementation and integration of living systems in our built environment is creating new types of biological and living materials, processes and systems, which have the potential to turn a growing number of static urban artifacts into metabolic, circular and breathing organisms. The seminar aims to explore how digital and biological fabrication techniques can be combined to produce complex architectural systems, enhancing urban metabolism and environment.

In today’s digital fabrication applications, the focus is rarely on processing structural and material complexity. The seminar will explore ways of working towards this, by studying natural processes, such as the growth of plant roots, using the roots as entities that can “compute” material organization. We will develop variations of “digital prototyping” creating natural digital structures, while developing circular systems that enhance urban metabolism and environmental quality. Students will develop a 1:1 scale digital bio-system prototype and a vision of its application at building/urban scale.

The “Digital Bio-systems” seminar aims to blur the line between digital fabrication and biological synthesis, enhancing urban metabolism.


At course completion the student will:
-understand the basics of circular design
-be capable to design a real-situation project at a proof of concept level, where a digital bio-system is applied
-be able to set up digital bio-system prototypes

Photo Credits:
TROPE, MAA 2012/13
Niccolo Marini, Sofoklis Giannakopoulos, Stefanos Levidis, Giorgos Soutos
Jean Akanish, Alexandre Dolon, Jin Shihui, Ali Yerdel