viernes, 12 de julio de 2013

‘Parabolic Soap’ is a fusion of artificial / mechanical and natural behaviour

Created by Felix Worseck at the Berlin University of the Arts (Digitale Klasse), installation “parabolic soap” is a fusion of artificial / mechanical and natural behaviour. The aim of the install is to produce a paraboloid surface that can be moved for approximately 60 seconds. This minimal surface is created only after the connection of the membrane and the soap pool is broken.

The movements of the stepper motors are arbitrary. They are controlled by an Arduino program that assigns random values ??in each pass to the height of the four control axes. After the soap membrane is separated from the base, the machine moves back to the initial state and the sequence begins again.

Components: Arduino, Easy Driver, Stepper Motors, 3D printed joints.

The 1 cubic metre installation was shown in glass casing on Einsteinufer 43-53 street in Berlin from 15th April until 3rd May 2013.

Project Page | Felix Worseck

BIQ, World’s first microalgae façade goes ‘live’

by BIQ
25 Apr 2013

Natural, efficient and unique: the BIQ is setting new standards as the first building in the world to have a bioreactor façade. Microalgae are cultivated in the glass elements that make up its “bio skin”. These are used to produce energy, and can also control light and provide shade. Inside, an innovative living concept is aimed at ensuring maximum design versatility for everyday life, and gives us a glimpse into urban life in the future. With its innovative living concept, futuristic exterior, and “intelligent” algae façade, the BIQ is a highlight of ”The Building Exhibition within the Building Exhibition”.

A Building with a Second Green Skin 
The sides of the building that face the sun have a second outer shell that is set into the façade itself. Microalgae – tiny plants, most no larger than bacteria – are produced within this shell. They enable the house to supply its own energy. The only thing that the algae have to do is simply to grow. They are continuously supplied with liquid nutrients and carbon dioxide via a separate water circuit running through the façade. With the aid of sunlight, the algae can photosynthesise and grow. This façade is the first of its kind in the world and makes use of the very latest energy and environmental technology.

Microalgae – a Smart Energy Solution 
The algae flourish and multiply in a regular cycle until they can be harvested. They are then separated from the rest of the algae and transferred as a thick pulp to the technical room of the BIQ. The little plants are then fermented in an external biogas plant, so that they can be used again to generate biogas. Algae are particularly well suited for this, as they produce up to five times as much biomass per hectare as terrestrial plants and contain many oils that can be used for energy.

An Energy Concept that Calls upon Natural Forces 
The BIQ has a holistic energy concept: it draws all of the energy needed to generate electricity and heat from renewable sources – fossil fuels remain untouched. It is able to generate energy using the algae biomass harvested from its own façade. Moreover, the façade collects energy by absorbing the light that is not used by the algae and generating heat, like in a solar thermal unit, which is then either used directly for hot water and heating, or can be cached in the ground using borehole heat exchangers 80 metre-deep holes filled with brine. This remarkably sustainable energy concept is therefore capable of creating a cycle of solar thermal energy, geothermal energy, a condensing boiler, local heat, and the capture of biomass using the bio-reactor façade.

More than just a Shell: the BIQ Demonstrates what Tomorrow’s Façades can do
The BIQ building shows that in the future façades will be able to serve a number of different functions, and be much more than an aesthetic cladding to protect against rain and cold. While the northeast- and northwest-facing sides of the building have an elaborately decorated shell to draw the eye, the algae within the southwest and southeast façades produce biomass for renewable energy. In addition, the façade also serves the conventional purposes of insulating the building from sound, heat, and cold, and provides shade in bright sunlight. Spacious balconies give the residents sweeping views over the park, as well as the chance to see the natural power plant contained in the algae façade up close. However, visitors can also observe this film of matter as it grows. The greenness of the façade shows that the algae are breaking down the carbon dioxide and processing it through photosynthesis. This renewable form of energy production is thus visible from outside the building, and is an intentional part of the architectural concept.

Living on Demand
Inside, the BIQ reveals how we might live in the future. The ever greater interconnectedness between living and working and the increased demand for adaptable housing spaces means that there will be a call for versatile residential ground plans in the future. Two of the total of fifteen apartments to be housed in the BIQ do not have separate rooms, but rather enable the inhabitants to configure their living arrangements “on demand”. Depending on their needs, individual functions of the apartment – bathroom, kitchen, sleeping area – can be swapped about or combined to form a “neutral zone”. In this way, the necessities of everyday life determine the appearance of the apartment, and the versatile layout can be adapted to suit the residents and their daily lives at any given time.

Biomimicry: Mother Nature as a 3D Printer?

ORIGINAL: Triple Pundit
By Tamsin Woolley-Barker, Ph.D
July 11th, 2013
Last month, over 350 bio-inspired futurists from all over the world came together to ask how humans can learn from the rest of nature to create conditions conducive to Life. Not just sustainable economies, cities, and production systems, but a fundamentally new way of life that creates abundance, just as coral reefs and rainforests do. Welcome to the first Biomimicry 3.8 Global Conference, at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

As I posted last week, the Conference’s opening day focused on “Generous Cities.“ These are urban environments that operate as regenerative ecosystems, actually improving the air, water, and land. On the Conference’s second day, that focus deepened and shifted away from buildings and cities, to the logistics of getting it done. “How would nature actually design the materials we need to build these cities?” Because, “at the end of the day,” said green chemist John C. Warner,we can only make products that are as sustainable as the building blocks we make them with.

We humans tend to solve each problem by creating a new polymer or plastic, none of which co-evolved with creatures to eat them. The result is that our “solutions” end up littering the Earth in perpetuity. Alternately, with all the cheap fossilized carbon lying around for us, it’s easy to apply energy to the problem: just plug it in and power it up! Unfortunately, burning yesterday’s carbon is changing the chemistry of our atmosphere faster than its inhabitants can adapt to it.

How would nature manufacture it?
Contrast our “plug-in/plastic” approach with that of our fellow Earthlings. Not having figured out how to eat fossils, they are on a pretty tight budget. They can only burn what they eat, and they have to make solutions from their own bodies or things they find around them. This leads to low-cost, highly-efficient structural solutions that use a handful of polymers, respond to the environment in adaptive ways, and can be broken down and reused by other creatures. This kind of problem-solving results in the highly interconnected and incredibly rich web of collaborative interdependence we call Life.

The flaccid sea cucumber, for instance, instantly goes rigid as a kevlar jacket, simply by changing the orientation of tiny cellulose “whiskers” in its gelatinous tissues. Likewise, tiny pores on the leaves of plants open up gracefully, breathing carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, then clamp shut minutes later to conserve precious water. The action is passive, triggered by changes in light, carbon dioxide concentrations, and water availability.
Learn from the ostrich egg  
Tom McKeag, editor of the beautifully-designed and award-winning bio-inspired digital magazine, Green Chemistry, set the stage for the idea of “regenerative manufacturing.” In a thought-provoking workshop called “Learning from the Ostrich Egg,” he presented the participants with a huge but humble marvel of engineering and clean design. What can our designers, material scientists, and architects learn from the egg? McKeag described its contradictory functional requirements. The egg must be strong enough to survive a precipitous drop from a very tall bird, then break apart for the tiny chick to hatch. It must be easily turned by the parent, but not roll away. Waste gases escape, but nourishing fluids remain. All these things and more are accomplished, using very few materials, all locally sourced and recyclable. The egg’s contradictory specifications, said McKeag, are what drive innovation and exquisitely efficient design.

3D printing revolution

The highlight of the day was a riveting presentation by MIT Media Lab Director Neri Oxman. Named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Oxman’s talk captivated the audience. She is at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution, looking to create synthetic “smart” materials that act as natural ones do. In nature, said Oxman, bones thicken in response to force, leaves grow toward light, and trees branches are shaped by wind. Why not a wrist splint that adapts to where you feel pain? Why not a lounge chair that shapes to your body and adjusts to your weight? With 3D printing, these possibilities become real.

A quick glance at an industrial manufacturing catalog will tell you that engineers like to assemble bits and parts. But that’s not how nature builds. Instead, living systems use a stripped-down palette of self-assembling materials that act in dramatically different ways with simple structural changes at the nano-, micro-, or macro level. The soft skin on your face, for instance, is not the same as the nasty stuff on the soles of your feet. An antelope’s hair, hooves, and horns are all made of keratin, but each does a quite different thing. We can do this with our materials too. What about printing with fiber optics to produce light-emitting objects? Or making a pair of glasses as a single piece that varies in transparency, rather than a separate frame and lenses?

But, said Oxman, our 3D printing technology has limitations. First, our feedstock is primarily non-structural plastic resin. Does it have to be? Not at all. The material can be whatever we decide it is as a society. Second, the size of the printing “frame” or gantry currently limits the size of the object. But what if we could scan and print freeform, using drones or robot arms? Third, current printers accrete horizontal layers, but living tissues build themselves organically, in three dimensions. How can we transcend our technology? Oxman’s team at MIT’s Mediated Matter set out to circumvent these limitations by developing the first freeform 3D printer, playing with different materials, and doing extensive digital consideration of desired objects. The result is a truly remarkable artistic vision of a not-so-distant, but radically transformative, future of “Making.”
Silk Pavilion

But as tantalizing as their findings were, Oxman said, the team remained frustrated by their primitive tools. Suddenly, she said, they hit on domesticated silkworms as living 3D printers, and the question became, “How would nature design a 3D printer?” They studied the “simple rules” used by silkworms in determining where and how to lay down silk, built a Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic dome scaffolding to elicit the desired responses, and released 6500 Bombina moryx silkworms. The worms “printed” the beautiful Silk Pavilion now hanging in the MIT Media Lab lobby, with “smart” variations in density and patchiness responding to light and substrate, consciously elicited by the team. In essence, the silkworm is a combined biocomputer and freeform printer, programmed by its DNA, printing with a biodegradable (and lovely) material, produced on-site simply by feeding the silkworms.

When asked what the future holds, Oxman lit up. She suggested that we could print objects perfectly designed by the requirements of a space itself. We could print with carbon nanotubules, effectively making a 4D printer that produces objects that adapt over time. This material would be “alive,” responding to light, heat, force, or humidity to create “smart” objects that adjust automatically to their environment. Or, she suggested, we could print large structures, like homes and bridges, using variable-density concrete to provide extra strength where it is needed and conserve material where it is not. She floated the possibility of changing the “printing material” or the “simple rules” of production through genetic engineering (like having silkworms print with spiderweb), or using other “living printers” like spiders, mushroom mycelium, vines, or corals. Could we cultivate self-assembling underwater structures from CO2, just as corals do today? The printers of the future could be robots inspired by these organisms, or something else entirely: a living scanner, printer, and biocomputer. Imagine “growing” your home, lighting, and furniture from “genetic blueprints” downloaded off the internet into a robot or a made-to-order living entity?

This vision elicited a predictably polarizing response from the audience. Many were horrified by the hubris of genetically engineering living creatures to act as our slaves. Biomimicry 3.8 Co-Founder Janine Benyus expressed this sentiment, standing up to say that biomimicry hopes to look beyond using organisms as raw resources, to a deep “process of learning from other fabricators. If you’re wearing cotton, a plant made it for you. If you’re wearing wool, a sheep made it for you. It’s time for humans to start making our own materials.

3D printing represents a transformative opportunity for us to redesign our manufacturing and consumption patterns, she said, pointing out that a great many of our machine parts are used to cut or grind away, literally subtracting, discarding, and wasting our planet’s precious resources. 3D printing, by contrast, is an additive process, using only what is needed. The time is coming, Benyus said, when we will “Make” everything we need at our neighborhood “Maker Shop,” exactly what, when, and where we need it, without waste or energy-intensive shipping. “But,” she added, “let’s make sure these printers aren’t tiny volcanoes on our desks,” dropping humanity out of the frying pan and into the fire. She implored the audience to make sure that locally abundant and benign feedstocks (ideally from the excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and oceans) become standard, materials that can be enzymatically digested at the end of product-life and fed back into our printers. Just like Nature would do it.

Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker is an evolutionary biologist, writer, and Biomimicry 3.8-trained sustainability and biomimicry consultant. She blogs at BioInspired Ink and serves as Content Developer for the California Association of Museums’ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation and resilience inspired by living systems.

[image credits: Kevin Krejci, Nasturtium Leaf, Ed Bierman, Sea Cucumber, Colin Raney, Silk Pavilion at MIT]

Silk Pavillion – CNC Deposited Silk & Silkworm Construction at the MIT Media Lab

Project Video  (HQ)

Silk Pavillion
2013 CNC Deposited Silk & Silkworm Construction
MIT Media Lab

Prof. Neri Oxman, Markus Kayser, Jared Laucks, Carlos David Gonzalez Uribe, Jorge Duro-Royo

The Silk Pavilion explores the relationship between digital and biological fabrication on product and architectural scales.The primary structure was created of 26 polygonal panels made of silk threads laid down by a CNC (Computer-Numerically Controlled) machine. Inspired by the silkworm’s ability to generate a 3D cocoon out of a single multi-property silk thread (1km in length), the overall geometry of the pavilion was created using an algorithm that assigns a single continuous thread across patches providing various degrees of density. Overall density variation was informed by the silkworm itself deployed as a biological printer in the creation of a secondary structure. A swarm of 6,500 silkworms was positioned at the bottom rim of the scaffold spinning flat non-woven silk patches as they locally reinforced the gaps across CNC-deposited silk fibers. Following their pupation stage the silkworms were removed. Resulting moths can produce 1.5 million eggs with the potential of constructing up to 250 additional pavilions. Affected by spatial and environmental conditions including geometrical density as well as variation in natural light and heat, the silkworms were found to migrate to darker and denser areas. Desired light effects informed variations in material organization across the surface area of the structure. A season-specific sun path diagram mapping solar trajectories in space dictated the location, size and density of apertures within the structure in order to lock-in rays of natural light entering the pavilion from South and East elevations. The central oculus is located against the East elevation and may be used as a sun-clock. Parallel basic research explored the use of silkworms as entities that can “compute” material organization based on external performance criteria. Specifically, we explored the formation of non-woven fiber structures generated by the silkworms as a computational schema for determining shape and material optimization of fiber-based surface structures. Research and Design by the Mediated Matter Research Group at the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with Prof. Fiorenzo Omenetto (TUFTS University) and Dr. James Weaver (WYSS Institute, Harvard University).

Selected Press: Creative Applications, DEZEEN, WIRED, FASTCOMPANY, ARCHDAILY, Treehugger, io9, jaxtapoz, CORE77, GIZMODO, Creator's Project, inhabitat, Forbes and more.