Algae Cellunoi – marcosandmarjan, Richard Beckett and Guan Lee
Exhibition installation at ARCHILAB 2013 – Naturalizing Architecture, FRAC Centre, Orleans France.
The installation is an ornamental wall structure for external use composed of numerous cellular components that work as a scaffold for algae to grow. The patterns have multiple patterns with gaps and crevices that aim for a gradual involvement of nature in its three-dimensional surface. The wall is made out of foam which is a quintessential insulation material. What is usually hidden in external walls is here turned inside out and exposed as an ornate thick surface.
Each cellular component is seeded with terrestrial algae that grows in the ridges of the variable patterns. The selected algae strains are Neochloris texensis – a soil based algae of the Neochloris genus and Trentepohlia – a filamentous green chlorophyte algae traditionally living on tree trunks, rocks or housing facades. The filaments of Trentepohlia have a strong orange colour caused by large quantities of carotenoid pigments which mask the green of the chlorophyll. Particular to this fast growing algae is that they live symbiotically in lichens which grow much slower, but ultimately create an enduring natural outer protection for the insulation wall. Each cellular component is also designed to host a variety of flasks in which liquid algae can grow for ground fertilization or simply to help creating a varied ecology of natural elements on the wall.
The overall organization of cellular components is the result of a computational voronoi pattern that determined the size and complexity of each cell. The result is a sequence of lofted surfaces that follow a gradient of punctuated lines and indentations that vary according to the geometric inclination of each surface – similar to growth layouuts in sea barnacles and shells.
The fabrication process is based on two three stages: 1) the milling of each cellular component floating over a milled back wall; 2) 3D objet printing of each flask filled with grown medium and green algae; 3) spraying of grow medium and algae in computationally determined areas of each cell (due to time/technical contraints, this stage has not been carried out for the installation at ARCHILAB).