LIAR Project – Living Architecture

Project start: April 2016, Duration: 3 years

Living Architecture (LIAR) is a next-generation, selectively-programmable bioreactor. It is envisioned as an integral component of human dwelling, capable of extracting valuable resources from sunlight, waste water and air and in turn, generating oxygen, proteins and biomass through the manipulation of their interactions.

The goal of project LIAR is to design and build a proof-of-concept ‘living architecture’ whose targeted breakthrough is to transform our habitats from inert spaces into programmable sites. LIAR will be developed as a modular bioreactor-wall, based on the operational principles of microbial fuel cell technology and synthetic ‘consortia’ of microbes. 

A freestanding partition composed of bioreactor ‘building blocks’ will be prototyped. The ‘building blocks’ are conceived as standardized building segments and can be incorporated into common building construction methods.

The outcome will be two bioreactor ‘building blocks’; one, a programmed and configured Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) to produce electricity, the other to purify air and water.

An array of bioreactors will act in parallel to a computer that is capable of both SENSING local conditions within a building and CONTROLLING the bioreactor system to optimize the building’s environmental impact.

A photo-bioreactor is a device that can be programmed to utilize a variety of inputs such as; grey water, microbial consortia (algae and bacteria), nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, visible light, temperature, different types of nutrient (nitrogen and phosphate as macronutrients, trace metals and vitamins as micronutrients), to generate outputs such as; “polished” water, fertiliser, extractable products (recoverable phosphate), oxygen, next generation biodegradable detergents, electricity, recoverable biomass, bio-fluorescence and to a certain extent, heat.

The economic value models used to justify this approach are based on both notions of ‘circular economy’ and also the World Wildlife Fund’s initiative to set new benchmarks and protocols in establishing the ‘real’ cost of natural resources in industrial processes.

LIAR develops a foundational platform for addressing the existing disparity between the waste produced by a building and the resources that lack in its surrounding ‘natural’ environment.

Applications within urban systems are a form of customizable, programmable micro-agriculture for installation in domestic, public (schools, hospitals) and office environments. The technology developed could potentially address global scale challenges of urban sustainability and resource management (if implemented at a large scale).