Alive architecture

Synthetic biology, growing buildings, and living inside organisms


Today’s architecture has been used for a long time. Most of the “so-called modern architecture” is a legacy of functionalist architects such as Le Corbusier or Mies Van der Rohe — who introduced the use of concrete, steel, and glass. Since then, there were several attempts to give an architecture different form, but most of them failed on the lack of needed material technology of their time.

However, today we live in a world with so many technological breakthroughs lying in front of us, that it is time to RETHINK architecture. It’s time to move to forward and embrace a different form of architecture.

In my research, I imagine what architecture might look like in not a very distant future.


1. building principles — synthetic biology

Building stones of my vision are the use of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is an emerging field, which combines biology and computing.

In short. Each living organism holds a piece of genetic information. This genetic information, which is stored through DNA, results in the creation of certain forms. If we could only play with this genetic information, we would be able to create totally new forms of life... actually — we are able to do this. In 2003 we read the whole human genome. We are now able to read genetic information of any living creature very easily. And, in 2010 we were able to CREATE an artificial cell. A cell, which genetic information was sequenced in computer and then inserted in an empty cell. Sequencing life is like writing software.

I started imagining, how could this change the way we build our environment.

2. application to the architecture

Autonomous vertical farm in Tokyo

Our planet’s population is growing fast and its demands on resources even faster. The architecture of the past was dependent on a plan and then construction. But what if we wouldn’t need plans for buildings? We would just code “building organisms”. (organisms, which would grow like trees or animals and which would use raw material from their environment — for example, CO2 to grow a bearing structure). We would code it into seeds. Then we would let those seeds fly all over as pollen does. The whole city organism would “sense”. They would activate in certain parts of the city and would grow the desired structure. Using only elements from the atmosphere and waste as a resource for specific chemical elements.

I used this concept for the design of a vertical farm — fields stack onto each other in a skyscraper. This structure will be autonomous and will provide enough fresh food for surrounding communities. With the help of synthetic biology, it wouldn’t be only limited to growing vegetables, but it could also provide all kinds of organic food — such as meat, eggs, etc.


As out of this world as this may sound, it’s easily in the capacity of synthetic biology and all together in human development.

Let us try to reimagine how we think about things. Let us not fall for established paradigms.

More on the project here (in Czech):