Can We Grow Architecture?


One of the highlights of the Circular Economy in Architecture and Design exhibition is the project, ‘Flora robotica’, an EU-funded research project that investigates whether it is possible to create a symbiotic relationship between plants and robots that will make it possible to grow architecture in the future. The project is the work of Phil Ayres, Mary Katherine Heinrich and Jens Jørgensen from KADK’s Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) and a multidisciplinary team of robot engineers and biologists.

Can you imagine architecture that can grow, adapt to, and learn from its surroundings, repair itself, adjust its resources, respect the environment and have an aesthetic appeal at the same time?

‘Flora robotica’ is an EU-funded research project that explores different options of creating symbiotic relationships between plants and robots and combining them in a hybrid organism.

Photo: Flora robotica
Photo: Flora robotica

By using robots to control the free growth of plants with, for example, red and blue light sources, you can create a productive interaction between plant and machine. Since the project is at the basic research stage, there is no plug-and-play solution on display in the exhibition. It is research in progress: a series of high, woven, fibreglass structures, which as a strong basis for the plant-robot hybrids, make it possible to create large, lightweight and secure structures and which in the longer term will make it possible to grow architecture.

‘Flora robotica’ is based on the principles of circular economy by operating in a closed, non-linear system that has self-generating properties. By assembling an interdisciplinary team of architects, IT experts, robot engineers and biologists, ‘Flora robotica’ paves the way of a new way of thinking about architecture.