Modern biotechnologies give us unprecedented control of the fundamental building blocks of life. For designers, across a range of disciplines, emerging fields such as synthetic biology offer the promise of new sustainable materials and structures which may be grown, are self-assembling, are self-healing and adaptable to change. While there is a thriving speculative discourse on the future of design in the age of biotechnology, there are few realized design applications.
This book, the first in the Bio Design series, acts as a bridge between design speculation and scientific reality and between contemporary design thinking, in areas such as architecture, product design and fashion design, and the traditional engineering approaches which currently dominate bio technologies. Filled with real examples, Living Construction reveals how living cells construct and transform materials through methods of fabrication and assembly at multiple scales and how designers can utilize these processes.
Martyn Dade-Robertson is Professor of Emerging Technology at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University and the Co-Director of the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment. He holds degrees in architecture, architectural computing and synthetic biology.
Series Editor's Preface
Ethics and Society
A new approach?
Scope of the book
A note on the living
Structure of the book
2 The Designs of the Natural
Blurring between the natural and artificial
Biology as machine
The Sciences of the Artificial
Inside and outside
Artificializing the natural in Synthetic Biology
Forcible constraint v. natures own agencies
Beyond the machine
3 The Logic of Living Assembly
Biological construction: between assembly and fabrication
Logics of assembly in alien technology
Chemistry: Bounding, concentration and the patterning of forces
Inside a cell: Patterning of parts and the constraint of forces
Multi-cellular assembly: Patterning of environment
Emergence: Information for free
Self-assembly and external control
Beyond the 'self'
4 Fabrication in the Living
From assembly to fabrication
Top-down v. bottom-up
In vivo and in vitro biological fabrication.
Bottom-up causality: Thinking Soils
Top down causally: Bio induced mineral crystals
The challenge of decomposability
Diagram 1: Domains of Information
Diagram 2: Phase spaces and landscapes of change
Composing the music of life: Creodic design
5 Conclusion: The Craft of Living Construction
The end of the beginning
A new agricultural revolution
"This inspiring and informative book asks how we might construct material structures using biology. Its author, an architect and qualified synthetic biologist, is uniquely able to combine ambitious design and down-to-bench realism. Constructed around ideas - of life, of design, of fabrication - the book provides an ideal springboard to a biological architecture grounded, not in conceptual fantasies, but on what might really be achieved."
Jamie A. Davies, Professor of Experimental Anatomy, University of Edinburgh
"Living Construction is a readable synthesis of important principles for the new field of biodesign, written by someone with graduate training in both architecture and synthetic biology. Dade-Robertson clearly knows the details but has the gift of extrapolating these into accurate yet broad generalities. While design and biology each has its disciplinary theories and practices, this book distills sound principles for their intersection in biodesign, offering a very useful contemporary map for practitioners in the arts and sciences. I especially admire his answer to his own question, Where is the information in biological assembly?, for how it addresses multiple scales simultaneously. This is a key primer for all students in biodesign."
Christina Cogdell, Professor, University of California at Davis