Biogenic Architecture at the Ars Electronica 2020

23 September 2020

Nina Jotanovic presented her work on Biogenic Architecture this year at the Ars Electronica. Ars Electronica2020 offered a duality of local-physical and globally networked events all over the world. Across the Ars Electronica’s international network, “real” events took place in many places, with “real” artists and scientists for “real” audiences, all of which were networked into a festival from September 9 to 13.
Nina's project is a collaboration between the Bartlett School of Architecture and the CNIE and is closely linked to the team of Bio-ID. It questions the perceptual and environmental ‘flatness’ of synthetic materials in comparison to extremely thin, but highly expressive and performative biogenic ‘micro-crusts’. These living, grown micro-crusts are highly ordered three-dimensional structures on a microscopic level. As such, they act not only as visual enhancers through lustrous appearance that changes with light and viewer’s movement, but as a living mediator between building tissue and the environment. Through microbial colonisation, biomineralization and self-assembly of nanoscale building blocks the project aims to produce such biological micro-crusts in ecologically benign processes. Components exhibited are encrusted in living microbial colonies embedded in silica precipitated matrix and as such have a potential to actively engage in nitrogen, carbon and silica cycles, some of the most important element exchanges on our planet.

She exhibited three stand-alone elements, which are part of her experiment. You can virtually visit her exhibition here. After the exhibition these were placed in the outdoor environment where the development of micro-crusts will be monitored. The elements are designed to provide optimal conditions for the development of specific microbiological species. The spatial elements in the upper zone provide rainwater collection and create dynamic shading in the middle part of the elements. The central part is selectively glazed in order to simultaneously provide directed gliding of water droplets and water retention in shaded, porous parts in order to maintain the level of humidity necessary for the development of microbes. Ceramics were chosen as the substrate due to their biocompatibility, neutral pH value, porosity, manipulative absorption and micro roughness. Each of the three vertical elements was inoculated with different cultures of algae and bacteria, whose development will be monitored in the external environment for a period of 12 months.

Biogenic Architecture at the Ars Electronica 2020