CE43 - Bioéconomie : chimie, biotechnologie, procédés et approches système, de la biomasse aux usages

3D printing biomaterials induced by luminescent and calcifying bacteria for circular design applications – ImpressioVivo

Submission summary

Architects and designers have usually not exploited the poetic, aesthetic and cultural potential of biotechnologies with the same energy and extent that engineers have exploited their functional possibilities. This is particularly true in respect to recent bioprinting techniques that can be briefly defined as the 3D printing of living materials and systems. Acknowledging the need for interdisciplinary approaches to bioprinting research, ImpressioVivo is a biodesign-led project examining the circular conception and fabrication of 3D printed bio-based materials induced by light-emitting and calcifying bacteria for an architectural and design context.

Concerned with challenging the perception of resource as infinite and by promoting a resilient approach to material resources relying both on post-industrial waste and bio-based renewable deposits, the project seeks to understand how designers and architects can work with bacteria to design 3D printed bioluminescent and bio-calcified materials for circular design applications. A first material axis focus on the design of bioluminescent living hydrogels induced by the Vibrio Fischerii luminescent bacteria and a second one on the calcification of an upcycled foam made from paper waste by Sporosarcina pasteurii.

By studying the appropriation of these living organisms through advanced robot-controlled 3D printing technologies, the project will establish a conceptual, material and technological framework for a bio-controlled bacteria growth and 3D extrusion process supporting the circular design of materials based on petroleum-free, renewable resources for interior design & architectural applications. These results will ultimately be embodied in 1:1 scale demonstrator(s) displayed in a public context. A first demonstrator based on the 3D printing of a bioluminescent materiality intends to reflect on what does it mean to apprehend architecture as a temporary living environment while we expect the second one to illustrate the potential of bio-calcified paper-foam as lightweight load-bearing materials.

Underpinned by a practice-based and design-led approach to research core to the principal investigator, the project is facilitated by the complementary expertise of its partners: the Centre for Architecture & Information Technology (Denmark), 3D.Fab, a French technological platform dedicated to 3D printing for life science (Lyon) and the company Soletanche and Bachy for its bio-calcification expertise. The project is broken down into 6 work packages (WP) related first to project coordination and management (WP1) and foremost to biosafety level 1 biodesign experiments including: material probes into bioluminescent and bio-calcifying cultures (WP2-WP3), into the 3D printing of such bacteria-induced materials (WP4) and the subsequent appropriation of these techniques as demonstrators, supported by critical reflections in the form of bio-circular design probes (WP5).

By pushing the 3D printing of bioluminescent and bio-calcified materials towards an architectural scale, ImpressioVivo will not only design innovative materials and techniques contributing to the expansion of the bioprinting field, but also respond to the vital need of transforming the material culture of creation in architecture and design in the light of current ecological challenges. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the project will also contribute in bridging the gap between science, design and engineering, a necessity when it comes to such a transversal challenge as the bioeconomy. Finally, it will establish its principal investigator as a key player in biodesign, a primarily science and engineering-driven field, under-explored in a French academic design context and not yet structured as a design-led field at the EU level.

Project coordination

Aurélie Mosse (ENSADLAB)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CITA Centre for IT & Architecture, Royal Danish Academy

Help of the ANR 286,848 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 48 Months

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