During the past decades, agriculture has been depleting the soil, due to the increased chemical use and
harmful practices that damage the microbes and microorganisms in the topsoil. When soil is damaged,
it loses its capacity to store carbon, releasing it back into the atmosphere.

The permanent decline in the quality of soil, vegetation and water resources are contributing factors in
causing the deterioration of the economic productivity of the land and disrupting the ecosystem and the
micro and macro climates (Mcsweeney, 2019). This process is known as desertification.
The research focus of this paper emerges from the potential of restoring degraded soil, which displays
a storing capacity of up to 3 million tons of carbon annually. The aim of the thesis is thus to investigate,
test and experiment soil bioremediation strategies, by rethinking the properties of desertified soil, from
an exhausted material towards a zero-emission building material alternative.
The process involves developing a biomaterial derived from sand, composed of natural binders that
provide durability and allow for robotic fabrication implementations, while seeking to reintroduce
gradual remediation into infertile soils.




To achieve this, the research will follow three phases: material experimentation (1), extrusion prototyping
(2), and architectural application and contextualization (3).
Using bioconstructors such as the Sabellaria Alveolata as a model species, the initial stage (1) consists
of understanding the biological and chemical processes of cementing together particles of sand and
rock by secreting adhesive enzymes and binders. Consequently, a series of materials experiments
are set up, by mixing natural binders with aggregates and altering the resulting compositions into an
extrudable material.

Driven by computational form-finding and algorithmic strategies, the proposal aims to achieve
structurally complex geometries fabricated through robotic suspension printing techniques (2), that
challenge the idea of architectural cantilevers. The second phase thus investigates support-based 3D
printing methods, establishing a stratification system based on the alternating deposition of sand as a
support medium and as a building biomaterial.
Finally, the defined geometrical morphologies and fabrication techniques are addressed at an
architectural scale (3), through the proposal of a series of canopy networks inhabiting the xeric lands
of the Canary Islands.


‘When resources are degraded, we start competing for them’ (Maathai, 2008). The
enhancement of soil microbiomes represents an efficient way to transform decaying
plants into soil organic matter, maximizing the amount of carbon sequestration (Cherlet
et al., 2018).
The storage capacity of the soil has immense potential, being able to hold more carbon
than both plants and atmosphere combined. If we started reusing bioremediated infertile
soil, we could bio se-quester carbon through our buildings.



Can the challenges of soil depletion and resource scarcity be addressed by building with
bioremediated exhausted resources?
How can infertile soil (sand) be turned into a building material?
What are the ways in which sand can be implemented into robotic fabrication strategies?










Xeric Stratifications is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the MAA02 2019/2021 by: Student: Stefana Zapuc and Faculty: Marcos Cruz and Kunaljit Chadha