introducing myself..

Hello everyone,

I’m Koenraad. I came across biomaterials and now this forum through Ekoli, since some time ago working with children seemed like something I wanted to dedicate myself to. Biomaterials have since then piqued my interest.

I have a degree in architectural engineering and I also did some additional studies in urban planning.

So I saw the bacterial leather from Magma Nova growing on fluid and now I’m wondering : could you isolate a volume of water outdoors and grow a solid material on the spot… leading to a footbridge crossing the water surface for instance?

But my first idea when thinking about a physical object made of biomaterial was an abstract sculpture that grows (when you “feed” it), perhaps changing colour according to environmental factors… I like art. I still draw myself, mostly in an expressionistic kind of way.
In short, it could be something you can put on your windowsill, like a plant or a cactus. It’s structure could be like a shell structure for architectural purposes or all kinds of other structures bearing resemblence to what you see under a microscope.

I am just starting to get into biomaterials, so my knowledge about it and about it’s fabrication is still very limited at this time, but I hope I can make some meaningful contributions here on the forum nonetheless…


The main issue with your art would be time of response, Maybe as an urban planner, you have seen mycelium solve or create efficient ways. (Ok it was slime mold)

Maybe if you have comeptign species in equilibrium?? (Not a biologist, but we do have a similar concept in Chemistry)

And with the foot bridge would be hardening. Did you touch the bacterial leather pre drying?? that thing is not walkable (yet)

Love the ideas, keep them coming smethng has to stick

Hi Gammarra,

Nice to meet you. Thanks for the encouragement and the link!

Growth, colour, evolving and changing over time, that is all interesting to me.

Perhaps staying closer to what already exists could be worth exploring more. Perhaps a skeleton for an abstract sculpture could be made that allows (small) colourful “leaf” type mushrooms to cover its surface. I guess the problem would be to keep the skeleton intact and growth promoting, meaning it doesn’t get devoured or that the “nutrition” for the mushrooms simply doesn’t get exhausted (keep adding what needs to be added, keeping the trajectory of substances sustaining them intact).

Thinking about growth and colour, corals also come to mind. I don’t know anything about their growth mechanism and it is probably outlandish, but could there be some way to keep them, and keep them growing ,outside of water, by spraying them regularly with something for instance?

I guess I have some basic reading up to do about organisms…

I love the coral idea! I was thinking at one point to use electrolysis to deposit materials in that way, maybe that’s a possibility?

I am wondering if it could aid in the structural design of 3D objects by letting it do what it does on 3D surfaces…

Artificially growing dental plaque in massive amounts? Just throwing it out there…

Hahaha, yes! I would advise picking an idea and trying to make it work. There’s so many crazy things you can do, it becomes paralyzing at some point.

That is exactly the core of my research :wink:

But it’s more challenging because in structural design you need predicability, which is not the case of a living organism. Even if you keep all the parameters the same, it will always grow differently. Also, there is a difference between mimicking the behaviour or really letting it grow something structural. Until now, most research projects mimic behaviour, which I find less interesting.

But hey, if you have ideas on how to realise structural growth, we should start a special treat on this topic :slight_smile:

I have no concrete ideas at the moment, wish I had :wink:

Thinking out loud :

It depends on the loads you want to bear. A structural element of a construction is different from a facade in this regard…

Unlike plants (trees) and corals, where the adaptation of their shape to the environment/medium is pronounced (growing in order to sustain themselves and promote chances for reproduction), the adaptation of the shape is a lot less pronounced for fungi. What is the most determining factor for the shape of fungi : the substrate it grows on?

It seems to me that you would want to control the SHAPE of substrate it grows ON and the “shape” of the medium it grows IN (air, water…). How do you combine them?

How do you conceptualize fungi in order to think about them growing? Making analogies… Is the mycelium like the roots of a plant? Is what we call “the mushroom” in day to day life like the fruit of a tree and the spores like the seeds? Or is “the mushroom” like the tree?

Thinking of controlled randomness and also because I like art, I keep thinking about action painting and the “bird nest” olympic stadium by architects Herzog & de Meuron:

Growing multiple similar rigid layers on the same 3D surface, one at a time, and binding them together afterwards?

Specifically for your research : are you in contact with the MeMC department of the VUB and with a mycologist?

The mushroom is more like the fruit of a tree. It carries the seeds, like a fruit does, for sexual reproduction.

It can also reproduce asexually with pieces of mycelium. This is the way we do it when we use mushroom spawn.

Perhaps adding bacteria to the mix to increase predictability of shape will prove to be necessary for what we want to achieve.

I also saw something at a material fair which could lead to composite mycelium bricks specifically engineered to resist a variety of loads. I might make a seperate thread about it after I’ve done some further reading…