All buildings today have something in common: They are made using Victorian technologies. This involves blueprints, industrial manufacturing and construction using teams of workers. All this effort results in an inert object, which means there is a one–way transfer of energy from our environment into our homes and cities. This is not sustainable. I believe that the only possible way for us to construct genuinely sustainable homes and cities is by placing them in a constant conversation with their surroundings. In order to do this, we need to find the right language.
By Rachel Armstrong
Metabolic materials are a technology that acts as a chemical interface or language through which artificial structures such as, architecture, can connect with natural systems. I am developing this technology in collaboration with scientists working in the field of synthetic biology and origins of life sciences whose model systems of investigation are materials that belong to a new group of technologies being described as ‘living technology’ (Bedau, 2009), which possess some of the properties of living systems but are not considered ‘alive’.
The characteristic of metabolic materials is that they possess the living property of metabolism, which is a set of chemical interactions that transform one group of substances into another with the absorption or production of energy. This transfer of energy through chemical exchange directly couples the environment to the living technology and embeds it within an ecosystem. Metabolic materials work with the energy flow of matter and systems using a bottom up approach to the construction of architecture.