Ginger Krieg Dosier, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, is thinking beyond traditional building materials. The material of the future, she poses, should be pollution free and use little energy: it should be grown in laboratories.

Dosier has envisioned a new material to build transmission towers in the UAE desert, and it is based on the rapid growth of bacteria. She bases her idea off of the specific germ Sporosarcina Pastuerii, which is a common soil bacteria that can create a “biocement” material that has the ability to fuse with sand and, through a process known as Calcite Precipitation (MICP), creates a material that is sustainable, unlike wood, and unexpected, unlike concrete. The process is as such: the bacteria is grown and then fed into a 3-D printer, which will meld the bacteria with graded sand.  This mixture is then molded into units, utilizing local industrial facilities to create the units with casts. This method of material creation yields little waste, and allows for accuracy throughout the building process, with units being created thicker or thinner depending on what each area of the tower needs.

The transmission towers are assembled offsite, and once delivered on site, as suspended from steel cables to dry and harden into place for two weeks. At the end of this period, they are ready to bear weight themselves, and lines are strung between them. The arid desert environment helps them cement and cure in this brief waiting period.

The design of Dosier’s transmission towers relies on precedent. However, her ideas for material generation in a sustainable and pollution free way are unique, and represent the future of construction.

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