Research projects

Imprimer la lumière

Imprimer la lumière, 2021, 3D printed bioluminescent architecture developed with CITA, DK

Imprimer la lumière (2018 - 2021)

examines the making of a bio-luminescent micro architecture. The project is an interdisciplinary research enquiry sitting at the intersection of architecture, design and microbiology exploring the use of light-emitting bacteria as architectural materiality. The project is a collaboration between Soft Matters, Ensadlab, ENSAD and CITA .

By investigating the 3D printing of bioluminescent bacteria, we are questioning how architecture can be host for an ecology of species in symbiotic coexistence.

The project investigates the critical thinking and appropriation of living bacteria as an architectural materiality. To do so, we explore bioluminescence: a chemical form of light produced by many marine organisms, some insects and mushrooms.  In ‘Imprimer la lumière’ we use bioluminescent bacteria to examine the metabolism of a living architecture. 

The project is conceived over a series of experiments appropriating techniques for growing luminescent bacteria and developing the technologies for 3D printing the extrusion of their medium. 3D printing is explored as a means of liberating the forming processes of the medium to investigate how topology and surface treatment can drive the life cycles and therefore the light performance of the bacteria. In Imprimer la lumière, we use a collaborative robot with a bespoke micro dispenser. This allows us to address an architectural scale of fabrication distinct from dedicated bioprinter that operate at smaller scales. The building of new 3D printing methods for collaborative robots also allows us to interface with programmable design environments, allowing a higher degree of control and steering of both the design and the environment for the organisms.

Imprimer la lumière sits at the intersection of biodesign and digital fabrication. It opens up new perspectives for the design and appropriation of bioluminescence as an architectural materiality. At a conceptual level, the project asks what happens when the material of architecture becomes living: what are the new concepts, methods and technologies that are needed to design for and with living materials?

Main researchers: Aurélie Mosse, Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, Martin Tamke

Funding:  IFD sciences program of Institut Français du Danemark, Danish Arts Foundation, ArTeC.  

Related teaching project: Crafting 3D bioluminescence

Related publications: