First look: Our future architects in Puerto Rico, are thinking about biomaterials for smart Architecture!

First look: Our future architects in Puerto Rico, are thinking about biomaterials for smart Architecture!

photo: Edlyn García

photo: Edlyn García

Recently I witnessed and participated in a class presentation of architecture students, explaining the study of bio-growth processes with the purpose of utilizing these parameters in architecture. At the Pontificial Catholic University of Puerto Rico, the School of Architecture, bares a program called Biotectónica Research and Design Studio. The class of ARAD 102, lead by Wilfredo Méndez Vázquez and Edlyn García La Torre, developed this great analysis with the students obtaining interesting characteristics such as the study of a blowfish’s skin by stacking and folding, the strength of crawling plants, crocodile’s skin texture, the branching of “morivivi” plants, water physic’s essence, a beetle’s wings folding design, how trees branch, the stacking of the snail’s shell, bamboo growth and mulch’s fillings characteristics.


Water attraction model by student Andrea Acevedo
Photo: Edlyn Garcia

Here, Andrea investigated the behavior of water in terms of attraction as a chemical reaction of its atomic components. Her results were focused on adhesion as a result of water’s behavior when tensed and attracted, spherically shaping until released. An adhesive was the medium provided to represent the cohesive effect of water, obtaining interesting shapes for which the student will be developing an architectural space.

Blowfish stacking skin model by student Christian Reyes. Photo: Edlyn Garcia

Blowfish stacking skin, model by student Christian Reyes.
Photo: Edlyn Garcia

As for the blowfish, Christian decided to analyze the layering of his skin and the structure it creates when expanded (blown) or normal (deflated). His model represents the skin’s transformation according to these parameters.

Folding wings research

Folding wings research board by student: Carlos Guadalupe (Source)

The case of the beetle was further researched towards his wing’s strategy of folding. Aside to research, graphically they all had to prove the hypothesis achieving great results for being at such initial stage of studies at school. The space obtained as represented on the right of the image, is a conceptual design of what a space with the strategies obtained, can be possibly achieved.

Other students were actually playing with interesting materials like nitinol and sensors, still under exploration. Nonetheless, this wonderful experience is just starting for this group of future architects.

The architectural program is still in progress, the final project is to develop the architectural space, and after the eye witness jury, the teachers and myself with other colleagues, students were able to interpret and understand the basics of design when it has to be based upon a concept. With the precedent on scientific studies they can be able to develop, skin, space, or structure according to the bio-growth process studied and reflect these parameters accordingly. This in turn is an act of Biomimetic.

A warm thank you for the team of teachers Wilfredo Méndez and Edlyn García, for the initiative and invitation to witness the progress of these projects. As for the students, it was a great effort! Keep it up!

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.