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Urban Forestry. Symbiosis of Architecture and Nature.

MA_ARCH STUDIO WORK SPACES OF THE 21ST CENTURY Studio Master : Krassimir Krastev Second Advisor : Eric Helter By : Nicholas Canlas



This thesis takes into the consideration the urban growth of cities leading to the global phenomenon of deforestation, with todays method of construction deemed unsustainable due to the one way form of energy of material to an inert building. The object of study for this thesis is of living architecture, focusing dynamically on growing structures which can adapt to the environment in a process of constant evolution. Specifically looking at natural material systems understanding the self organizing growth principles and implementing them together with architectural structures resulting a genuinely sustainable symbiosis of architecture and Nature In conclusion the thesis will shown through a design of a 21st century work space facility with the characteristics and properties of a growing building within a forest thus achieving the symbiosis of architecture and nature


Table of Contents

[01] Abstract 2 [02] Introduction 4 [03] Studio Brief 8-9 [04] Thesis Statement 10-11 [05] Potential Client 12-13 [06] Living Material 14-19 [07] Preliminary Concept 20-23 [08] Growth 24-27 09] Narrative 28-33 [10] Methodolgy 34-43 [11] Structure 44-61 [12] Biosynthetic Material 62-71 [13] Design 72-103 [14] Bibliography 104-105




Introduction Urbanization leads to deforestation

Australia This thesis will be considering the growth of urbanism into the natural habitat, the forests are one of the worlds most important and valuable ecosystems, the value they have covers ecological, climatic, social and cultural aspects. It is near impossible to think about life on earth without them. However, the urbanization of the developing world as well as an ongoing increase in consumption for wood products is the main drive for deforestation.


Asia As rapid urban growth in developing cities take place, agricultural productivity will need to be increased, land clearing for housing projects like a virus would cut through the threshold and onto the natural environment causing an alarming rate of deforestation.

South America

North America


The loss of our natural environment is not The ecological balance is broken and this will only localized to tropical rainforests but is a eventually harm the nearby population and consequence to a global phenomena, The activies. images above shows various cases in every major continent, Linked with the population increase, in order The consequences of deforestation are negato accomodate the expanding urbanization tive from any points of view. trees are being cut to down eventually resulting the banishment of animals and vegetal species due to the loss of its habitat. it reflects negatively in the conservation of water, originating floods and droughts, soil erosion as well as the increase in temperature.



Introduction Forest Statistics

At the ecozone level, tropical rainforests (601,071sq km) experienced the largest area of forest lost and heavily decimated during the study period

Malaysia has the highest rate of forest loss between 2012 and 2014 as compared to its neighboring tropical countries 6


>> >>

In the year from 2012 to 2014 alone there was a 10% rise in timber harvest of the natural forests

The Question is... Can we reverse this trend and repopulate large areas of Malaysia with trees ?



Studio Brief - Work spaces of the 21st century Prof. Krassimir Krastev

Studio Brief The technologies that determine the programme of the projects will drive the choice of materials, structure, and performance of architectonic elements or assemblages. Understanding innovations in infrastructure, the need for mobility and flexibility; blurring the boundaries between natural and artificial habitats, protecting natural landscapes while praising the liveliness of a community in a neighborhood, the studio will conceive architecture that is informed by technological This year’s thesis studio will design work- innovation, as well as by human scale, replaces for the new industries born by the 21st vealing the materiality of humanity’s integracentury’s advances in science and technolo- tion with technology and science. gy, such as tech and software offices or campuses, nanotechnology labs and research The studio will investigate the cultural, econocentres; facilities dedicated to biotechnology, mic and social conditions and tendencies in renewable energy production, robotics, space the cities established as startup incubators of the tech industry, and study the unique exploration etc. circumstances that can influence the architecKeeping away from “corporate branding”, the ture of emerging tech industries. studio will explore the impact of innovation in material science and technology onto the way Parallel with that, the studio will research three computational paradigms: Coding, Arwe design, build, and use spaces for work, research and manufacturing. In a mobile and tificial constantly connected working environment, Intelligence and Robotics. Digital and material with artificial intelligence and robotics invol- experiments on those topics will be recorded ved in the industry, the way we use our work and structural prototypes, informed by those studies, will be exhibited at the end of the first spaces will change. semester. The Material Performance Studio is dedicated to exploring the convergence of contemporary architecture with science and technology through computation. Developing deeper practical and theoretical understanding of coding, artificial intelligence and robotics, the studio investigates the emerging transition from culture dominated by mass production towards the postindustrial landscape defined by digital production.


Key Words Material Performance Convergence of architecture science and technology Workplaces Labs and Research facilities Explore Material science and technology onto the way we design build and use spaces for work Materials & structure Performance of architectonic elements or assemblages Boundaries between natural and artificial habitats, protecting natural landscapes while praising the liveliness of a community Cultural, economic and social conditions Computational paradigms coding and digital material experiments Structural Prototypes



Thesis Statement

Rachel Armstrong innovates and designs sustainable solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies such as, Synthetic Biology – the rational engineering of living systems - and smart chemistry.

This thesis takes on the concept of living architecture focusing dynamically on growing structures which can adapt to the environment in a process of constant evolution. Specifically looking at natural material systems understanding the self organizing growth principles and implementing them together with architectural structures resulting a genuinely sustainable symbiosis of architecture and Nature


M AT E R I A L i

V SY M B I O S I S t




Key words

u c t u r e 11


Potential Client FRIM - Forest Reserve Institute Malaysia

The Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), together with the State Forestry Department Negeri Sembilan, manages the research stations within the forest reserve. a spread of facilities over the forests of Malaysia, they‘re located on the border of the city and forest.


Each outpost located on a different level of the forest layers the Forest canopy the Understory the Forest floors.


The Pasoh base station for research purposes maintains an arboretum with 874 tagged and mapped trees belonging to 279 species from 44 families, Meandering Forest Canopy Guided trail of the understory and various species of ferns of the forest floor housing facilities some of these are situated in a clearing within the forest together with a small laboratory library for research and reference work.

FRIM allows visitors to learn more about Malaysia‘s tropical natural heritage with educational centers, galleries and laboratories that highlight the species and benefits of the flora and fauna as well as its uses in commercial industry.




Living Material

Problem Statement

Most buildings are made using victorian style technologies. This involves blueprints, industrial manufacturing and construction using a team of workers. All this effort results in an inert object, which means there is a one-way transfer of energy from our environment to our homes and cities which is not sustainable

The solution to construct a genuinely sustainable architecture is by placing them in constant conversation with our surroundings. In order to do this one must find the right language. Utilizing materials traditionally unconventional for design, Biological matter including live tissues, bacteria, trees and fungi. The use of these organisms to grow structures would demonstrate common biological characteristics of plants in a building specifically absorbtion of nutrient, growth, produce and self repair.



Living Material

Case Study - Living Bridge

The bridge of Cherrapunji India The living root bridges are a form of tree shaping, common in the southern part of india. They are made from the aerial roots of a living banyan fig trees, the pliable tree roots are made to grow through betel tree trunks and bamboo which have been placed across rivers and streams until the figs roots attach themselves to the other side.


Growing Material The growing bridge can take up to 10 years to complete. the useful lifespan of any given living root bridge under ideal conditions can in principle last for hundreds of years as long as the tree they are formed from remains healthy, They naturally self-renew and self-strenghten as their component root grows thicker



The bridge is a clear example of how the nat- The bridge can be defined as a functional ural growth system of the roots can be used structure as well as a living organism to reinforce the temporary bamboo structure



Living Material Breakdown

The concept of breaking down a natural material is to understand the growth organizational system in order to recreate a biosynthetic material which can be used to create living architecture.

The proposition of a 3d printable material made resin extract, genitically engineered with microorganisms and cultures from fungi


Metabolic Material

the natural properties of the new metabolic material allows the material to grow however without a binding agent the material would not be able to have properties of a building material

To be able to 3d print with living cells




Voids of the Forest

What would happen if we were required to preserve all existing and future trees within a site up for development ?


The answer exist within the voids of the forest




Research - Mapping out the Forest

Mapping Technology The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory first forest spectrometer. The CAO is a specialized aircraft equipped with optical, chemical, and laser sensors, Detecting dozens of signals such as photosynthetic pigment concentrations, water content of leaves, structural compounds Together form AToMS (the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System), Enabling to create high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of vegetation structure and their potential growth


RED Demarcating the forest canopy’s concentration of photosynthetic concentrations GREEB Water content of leaves in the understory BLUE Decomposing organic matter of the forest floorws

23 cites



Layers of the Forest

Canopy Layer


Found directly beneath the overstory layer

Directly underneath the canopy layer and on top of the forest floor

Characteristics Primary life sustaining layer with abundance of food and forms a natural roof over the remaining two layers ,canopy rising to 150feet above ground. Tree elevations, creates a highly reflective shield that protects them from higher levels of intense sunlight, Consists of a thick layering branch system of limbs and vines that create natural vistas and form a natural umbrella, Retains moisture and makes natural shield preventing washouts during heavy rain ,many epiphytic plants grow on the canopy layer such as Bromeliads and Orchids. Roots of these plants do not reach the ground or live in soil, instead they thrive by absorbing moisture and nutrients through an aerial root system by attaching themselves to a host, home to many species including birds, butterflies, monkeys, parrots, tree frogs, jaguars and leopards.


Characteristics this layer is a dark and dense sometimes almost impenetrable natural habitat like vines, shrub and broadleaf trees. Provides superior camouflage and many of the spcies who live here crossover between this layer and the canopy layer average 8 meters in height and have exceptionally large leaves to compensate for the lack of sunlight species living in this layer like darkness (nocturnal) several animal species such as tree frogs, bats , owls, and

Forest Floor Ground layer Characteristics Little Sunlight reaches the forest floor, quality of soil is extremely poor and very few plants are found growing examples of plants : moss, ferns and some low growth plants and vine roots. Rich in Microorgnism and this environment makes quick work of decomposition making a natural compost that is exceeding rich. Beetles, Frogs, Lizards, Snakes, Termintes and insects of every kind thrive by the millions in the moist dark climate of the forest floor




Setting Parameters

Step One Begin by understanding major aspect of dominant species of tree, taking into consideration a 15 year growth rate based on the growth patterns of the tree such as crown projection, root and branch distribution and an offset is set based on the location of the tree while a contour is set for every milestone in the layer of the forest






Setting Parameters

Buildable space

Negative space Obstructions Outline

Step Two Generating the voids of a forest by generating a forest based on the density of a tropical rain forest, then creating a 5m grid and culling the points that are obstructed by the growth of trees

15th year growth consideration Radius

Generated forest based on density of forest




Methodology Forest Voids

Step three Generating a metaball drape along the selected points of the forest resulting in the maximum buildable space without obstructing the growth of the trees 31



Growth Orientation

Mapped out forest showing buildable spaces

Branching Growth Meanders between/ the spaces of the trees

Buildable spaces within radious of selected path


Generated forest is sudivided creating Grid

Looped Growth - Wrapping around Trees




Growth Orientation

Existing project : Yellow Tree House Restaurant Auckland

Loop Growth Utilizing trees as anchor points


Tensegrity Installation

Branching Growth Pathways between the forest and nodes





Connections between nodes





Tensegrity as a structural framework

What is tensegrity ?

Tensegrity Self Stabilizes

According to a journa,space structures by K.Snelson (2012) Tensegrity is a closed structural system composed of a set of three or more elongate compression struts inside a net of continuous tension, in such a way that the compressed members do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members delineate the system spatially, One of the great benefits of a tensegrity structure is that forces are purely axial and predominantly tension. the tension-only members are not subject to compressive forces that cause buckling and can take advantage of materials that are strong in tension. This feature results in a material efficiency and a low weight structure.

As implied by the name coined by Buckminster Fuller, tensegrity structures are stable, statically constrained structures. The mobility of these structures, are based on the compressive memberas it loses stiffness when load it set on it, whereas the tensile member gains stiffness as it is loaded.

Tensegrity Structures are efficient Since the middle of the 20th century Traditionally we have conceived and built structure in a rectilinear fashion. Civil structures tend to be made with orthogonal beams,plate and columns. However orthogonal architecture does not usually yiled the minimal mass design for a given set of stiffness properties Bendsoe and Kikuchi,29 Jarre,30 and others have shown that the optimal distribution of massfor specific stiffness objectives tends to be neither a solid mass of material with a fixed external geometry, nor material laid out in orthogonal ocmponents. The material is only needed in the esential load paths, Tensegrity structures stray from the orthogonal paths of traditional manmade structures by using its logitudinal members arranged in an unusual pattern to achieve strength with a small mass

39 cites Nwokah, O. D., & Hurmuzlu, Y. (2002). The Mechanical systems design handbook: Modeling, measurement, and control. Boca Raton.



Strutural Tensegrity Simulation

The simulation Tensegrity modules with Rhino Grasshopper and Kangaroo plugin. The result shows that modules that have have a structural system composed of a set of three or more elongated compression struts within a network of tension tendons are pressed outwardly agaisnt nodal points in the tension network to form a firm, triangulated prestressed tension and compression unit. the module on the right has failed because the structure was non trangulated and hence the structure proves to be flaccid.



Biosynthetic Material Mycelium

Quote „we must biologically integrate the inorganic aspects and processes of our built environment with the landscape so that they mutually become eco-systemic. this is the creation of human-made ecosystems compatible with the ecosystems in nature“(Yeang,2007)

Inventor Philip Ross Internationally awarded and exhibited research is focused on biomaterial design and life support technologies. taking a step towards biomimicry, Phillip‘s innovations in mycelium engineering are globally recognized as foundational to the invention of mycotecture, the practice of building with mycelium.

Qualities of Mycelium The remarkable qualities of fungal materials such as mycelium can be easily cultivated and with its sustainable value of assembly through decomposition makes it the ideal casting material that could be altered as it sets. In traditional casting materials such as plaster or cement the material gives a shortamount of time before the material sets to become an inert product. However with mycelium the moulding time is extended to the duration of the plant life, allowing the growth and flexibity of designing a building overtime as the material communicates with the environment, natural elements such as light, gravity, heat, moisture and cleanliness of the environment would determine the form of mycelium as opposed to a chisel or drill.


Mycelium based products Structural Application Potential columns and beams

Bio-composite boards produced from discarded agricultural waste, affordable building materials made from residual waste materials

Mycelium chair 3d printed living organism a threadlike network of fungi in combination of raw materials to create products with a negative carbon footprint

43 cites


Biosynthetic Material Mycelium

44 cites!__fungi

Life cycle of a mushroom Spores or pure cultures with the right conditions will germinate into a hyphae, the hyphae is the root asorbs water to germinate, the hyphae forming a large weave of networks is called the mycelium. The mycelium is the vegetative body of the organism and its role is to absorb enough nutrients to allow it to produce a mushroom. When conditions are met, a small hyphal knot will form which develops into a primordium which will continue to absorb and grow until it has gills fully developed which in turn will produce billions of spores. at this point the life cycle of the mushroom is complete


Binding agent

a pure culture of mycelium derrived from either mushroom tissue or spores enough to begin the cultivation, the culture requires a carrier material to create a mushroom spawn, most common carrier materials are agricultural waste or grains, the carrier material inculated with the pure culture of mycelium would continue to spawn fusing with the carrier material, both the carrier material and the culture are then placed in an autoclave to steralize to provide an environment for the mycelium to grow unopposed, once steralized and innoculated with pure mycelium. The material is packaged sealed and placed in an incubation room for the mycelium to completely colonize the carrier material

As mycelium is a fungi which consists of thousands of filaments grown from the core culture, the branched out network would decompose the carrier material while at the same time gluing what is still left of the pulp together creating a fortified pulp or composite. Mycelium grown in different conditions and different strategies can be cultured with different compounds and may vary in result once the carrier material is completely colonized, depending on the properties of the carrier material. Known materials to be cultured with mycelium are rubber creating a flexible weave, agar extract from moss become a plastic like material and wood becomes a harder composite as opposed to brick



Biosynthetic Material Symbiosis

Symbiosis The concept is to embed the flexibilty of the tensegrity structure together with the growing organism of mycelium to produce a dynamically growing structure.


The Resulting Product Would be a building system which would not require industrial manufacturing nor a construction team of workers to generate and architectural space instead the structural would depend on rate of deocomposition in order to grow.

The new system would inherit the biological characteristics of plants in terms of absorbing nutrients in order to grow or self repair



Biosynthetic Material Construction detail

With the same concept of a tree would engulf an obstruction with overgrowth, the foreign object is compartmentalized within the trunk eventually becoming part of the tree


The high tension cables are pierced through the solid node of the bamboo while the hollow internode is filled with the mycelium. The solution overtime taking in nutrients growing from the inside of the bamboo and eventually completely enveloping around the bamboo when fully grown

Heating the product kills the bateria within the mycelium creating a more rigid inert frame whereas leaving the product to constantly grow and create more weaves would result a more flexible yet firm product




Biosynthetic Material Construction Process

Mycelium Growth creating endoskeletal structure

End of struts are anchored to the nearest tree in proximity

Base framework and nodes used to establish irregular tensegrity structure as building envelope

Primitive 3 prism tensegrity established as base framework

Forest Void nodes needed to find configuration of irregular tensegrity structure

Generated forest based on density of forest





Mycelium Research and Production Facility





Program - manufacturing process of mycelium

Accelerant Agar extracted from Moss

Mycelium culture placed in Agar to accelerate growth

Carrier Material Culture is combined with agricultural waste

After Sterilzation through autoclaving The sample is left in incubation to let the mycelium colonize the carrier material

Product is a light weight water proof, flame proof durable material.





Superimposed plan




Plan and Program

Aeroponic Chamber and

Aeroponic Chamber and Agar Extraction Creating the perfect conditions for growing moss and extracting the essence as a substrain for the mushroom growth

Synthetic Meadow

Synthetic Meadow Grows agricultural crops as as well as producing agricultural waste as a carrier material for the mycelium


Incubation Room

Incubation Room A room creating the conditions to allow the mycelium to colonize the carrier material


d Agar Extraction

Fungi Laboratory and Shroomery Fungi Laboratory and Shroomery The Fungi laboratory investigates and and assesses the various methodologies of implementing fungal mycelium on other organic compounds.

oclave Facility Community Hub

Community Hub Center of information for the facility where pure cultured mycelium can be purchased or studied

Autoclave Facility Facility used to steralize the products and embedding of the mycelium culture allowing it to grow unopposed.





Front Perspective





Section - Fungi Lab & Shroomery





Perspective - Shroomery





Section Aerponic - Moss Nursery - Agar Cultivation





Perspective Aeroponics - Moss Nursery





Section Synthetic Meadow - Agriculture Production





Perspective Synthetic Meadow - Agriculture Production





Section - Autoclave Facility and Incubation





Perspective Incubation Area





Perspective Autoclave Facility





Community Hub





Perspective from forest Floor





Conceptual Model




Below is a list of people who have by their research and expriments given strong insights about growing materials for design. Phillip Ross, Professor at the university of san francisco whose work is internationally awarded for focusing on biomaterial design , i have been following his work through web seminars and understand the design of his product from exhibited research works. Micro biologist at the Utrecht University Netherlands and his fundamental research on how fungi grow and his methods of culturing fungi in different ways and growing alternatives to our everyday materials. Eric Klarenbeek, researcher and designer of the unsual with his research on refining a natural balance of material and design. Known for his product the mycelium chair the first 3d printed chair that produces mushrooms.


Works Cited "Tension and Integrity - Tensegrity a Balance of Tension Members." Anatomy Trains. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2016. "Sustainability in Architecture." DSpace@ MIT:. Web. 15 Jan. 2016. "Dark Roasted Blend: Living, Growing Architecture." Dark Roasted Blend. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2016. "Master Thesis" Advanced Daylighting Technologies for Sustainable Architecture Design "" Master Thesis" Advanced Daylighting Technologies for Sustainable Architecture Design " Web. 15 Jan. 2016. "Molecular Activities, Biosynthesis and Evolution of Triterpenoid Saponins." Molecular Activities, Biosynthesis and Evolution of Triterpenoid Saponins. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. Motro, ReneĚ . Tensegrity: Structural Systems for the Future. London: Kogan Page Science, 2003. Print. "MycoTechnology Providing Innovative Ingredient Solutions." MycoTechnology Inc.,. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2016. "Transcript of "Design at the Intersection of Technology and Biology"" Neri Oxman: Design at the Intersection of Technology and Biology. Web. 15 Jan. 2016. "Transcript of "Architecture That Repairs Itself?"" Rachel Armstrong: Architecture That Repairs Itself? Web. 15 Jan. 2016. "TENSEGRITY." Simple Tensegrity Structures. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2016.


I Dessau International Architecture School Anhalt University Department 3 Š 2016

Thesis Booklet - Symbiosis of Architecture and Nature by Nicholas Canlas  

A conceptual study of building within the meandering voids of the forest, utilizing Buckminster Fuller's Tensegrity as a base frame envelope...

Thesis Booklet - Symbiosis of Architecture and Nature by Nicholas Canlas  

A conceptual study of building within the meandering voids of the forest, utilizing Buckminster Fuller's Tensegrity as a base frame envelope...