Genetic Architecture – Housing

By:  | January - 29 - 2010

Special Mention – 2007 Housing Competition
Project by: Francesco Gatti, Francesco Lipari, Aurgho Jyoti, Summer Nie


With the convergence of computation and biogenetics in the latter part of the 20th century and subsequent completion of the Human Genome Project, we are now witnessing the emergence of a post-human era, which will transform the way we think and interact with the world at large. Genetic architecture is based on the philosophical notion of genesis.

The design ideates from an existing technological research to generate skin systems as cladding material for a building. Researchers at the Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, have developed the next generation of self-healing material, which mimics human skin by healing itself time after time. Fidia Advanced Biopolymers in Italy has produced innovative technologies that enable human tissues such as cartilage and skin to be regenerated in a laboratory. With the DNA of a particular type of skin, the same skin is produced by the company in required amounts.

In this project the skin transforms the building into an intelligent structure with automated adaptive systems to suit variable situations. Insulation systems form an integral part of the skin. Heat loss in summer will be ensured by the process of perspiration of the skin producing a cooling effect on the building. Similarly, heat storage in winters is ensured by generation of hair like structures on the skin which prevent the loss of heat by insulation. The change of color is also instrumental in heat insulation systems and depending upon the color of the skin the heat liberation is controlled.


Addition of new structures to the existing building in the form of projections is aided by the elastic property of the skin. The skin remains the same, only to mask a new shape. The new skin also changes the typology according to the latitude and climate in which the building is located. A typological animal chart helps decide the system for such a transition.

The hardness of the skin can vary according to the situational context of the building. The image portrayed by the building can be decided by the feel of the skin, it can be soft or rough.

Genetic Architecture is based on the development of biological skin that takes its DNA from different existing organisms and animals on earth. Each building, located in different zones of the world will require different properties for the outside skin. We can imagine that a building located in a cold region can use a skin made with the DNA of a sea lion, for its thick fat coat, mixed with the DNA of a bear, for its dense protecting fur.



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