With vegetables, we’ve been doing it for years: most current vegetables never existed, in an autonomous evolutionary process. We as humans have slowly transformed them so that they grow the way we appreciate them, and want them on our plates. (Or the industry has adapted them the way we want them to be…)
Not only do we modify plants, we also do it with animals, so that they grow the way we like them: with more meat on their bones for example, or with maximum milk production. But even that will soon be obsolete: we will skip the still environmentally damaging step of breeding animals, by developing the desired components ourselves: we will grow artificial meat… we will skip the animal phase! Milk production without cows is also “under development” . No doubt this will work, and even at some point in the future without the intervention of a high-tech lab: it will be a matter of planting a seed, or putting a cell on a nursery, and out comes a vegetable dish or a nice piece of meat.
We are rewriting DNA, even already in humans . That’s what you call tackling the problems at the source. Stem cells are reprogrammed, and so on, to provide a grown kidney ready for transplant. Darwinian evolution no longer exists, it is humans who have taken over, as (among others) Enriques and Gullans describe it ( in the book ‘Evolving ourselves’).
I am not saying that is a good thing. Probably it has huge disadvantages modifying nature like that. But it has oem clues that we could use when we look at constructing buildings with those eyes. … Then all that fiddling with baking bricks, or drawing profiles, and then composing a house from these parts, is just child’s play. And while we are changing for biobased materials, now then why not grow our house directly? Direct on the land, just right the first time?
That is in fact the only just direction of development: no huge land areas for raw materials, transported, modified , lots of energy added, transported again No more under mining The Netherlands for gravel and sand, (which is already being illegally traded elsewhere in the world and is causing beaches and islands to disappear -search for ‘Sand Wars’), enormous fossil energy use for metals, threatening our own health (Tatasteel), countless SMEs that develop a screw or a profile, ever more complex, in order to then put up a building, preferably in the traditional manner. And aluminum factories saved time and again because it is expensive to put enormous amounts of energy in it. While we certainly don’t need aluminum in construction. [see http://www.ronaldrovers.com/buillding-sector-and-co2-avoid-aluminium/ ]
Doing a little better is not going to work . Even the current trend towards prefabricated housing production is a century too late. We have to skip steps, to achieve a gigantically necessary CO2 reduction, to do it right the first time. So let nature do the work, with a little bit of help, in a physical and biological sustainable way, not in a technological way.
The first steps have been taken: I wrote earlier about an artist who started a project to have a chair grow directly on the land. He now has a company and you can order chairs from the new harvest online. (search for ‘fullgrown chairs’)
The next step, is obvious, we grow the house directly around it, as a tiny house of course, to start with. It’s not high technology, not low tech-nology, not bio-tech-nology, but bio-nology that we need , skipping all the classic tech-nology steps. Those are outdated, we’re going to do it right away: we’re going to let nature itself make the good products without the intervention of external energy-consuming processes. Say grow a tree house, but directly on the ground floor. It will take some practice, to grow such a natural growing wood frame house , a woodframe-b (bionologic) house. But the wood/timber frame is doable, see the chair man, more challenging is to grow the walls and insulation directly in between….
We go from low tech, through fossil driven, and through high tech, to bionology: the art of not using clumsy force to start transforming all kinds of random (raw) matter until we are satisfied, but letting the desired product emerge directly, with solar energy doing most of the work. A completely natural process, [deleted] The art of letting nature do its work. – Wu Wei. Or putting nature to work, actually. It’s going to take a while, of course. The solar grown chair already takes 6 years. For a house, the columns will have to be a bit thicker, so it will take 10 years or so. But that is the right pace of life, the required space time to organize molecules. Living faster than nature can get organized and keep up is not possible. Yes temporarily, with all its problems, in time. Now is the time to switch over. So that in 10 years the first grown tiny houses ‘come off the assembly line’. Or rather: harvested off the land.
Bionology as opposed to technology. With the following definition for the dictionary: ‘the study of the actions by which nature itself produces (!) products for the satisfaction of human needs’. (from: People vs Resources, publ. Eburon) Just as an apple is ready and waiting to be eaten, soon a house, or a shelter, will be ready and waiting to be lived in.
It is time for the construction industry to step into the modern age. For 2000 years we have been building the same thing, stacking bricks, and putting baked tiles on top. Its about time to abandon copying that old Roman concept. Or even automating its production, with brick strips…. We have been standing still for 2000 years, in building and construction. Now it is time to take a mega step, beyond industrialization, towards vegetarian and bionological building.
The article was slightly edited, since it was not my intention to suggest changing the dna of plants to make them more suitable for our use, as we did with vegetables and feedstock (.). ( though I am not educated enough in this field whether yes or no that should be avoided, or can be an option without disrupting ecosystems.
After writing this article I went looking for a suitable photo, and to my surprise stumbled upon a dutch foundation that is already working somewhat in this direction: ‘The living village’.
Interesting detail in this story: how do you get a building permit, if there is no blueprint…?
and on an older article from inhabitat:
And an article about ‘living bridges’:
(which happened to be featured in The green Planet by Richard Attenborough, in episode 5, which I dicovered watching just this evening…. )
earlier I wrote bionology part 1: