Anders Christiansen, Unit 20 2009
Homeostatic Membrane

Homeostasis is the term used to describe the ability of an organism to self-regulate when being subject to fluctuating conditions. In the architectural realm, homeostasis implies the application of an active architecture; responsive to its (1) climate, (2) environment (setting and surroundings) and (3) function (interface). As homeostasis in its essence is about action and re-action, an application requires an understanding of the climatic conditions in which the intervention sits: The extent of natural and artificial impacts it is subject to, such as sun exposure, rain, humidity and temperature, but also human imposed factors like light-, noise- and air-pollution.

Cross-referenced with the functional requirements of the intervention, an analysis of these assets will lead to an optimized structure, which considers both environmental and practical purposes. The homeostatic membrane acts as the overlap between external conditions and internal requirements. Drawing on current research in the fields of bioengineering and nanotechnology, it hosts a biosynthetic ecology of biological matter and technological mechanisms.

Near-future scientific advances allow for microscopic probes to detect chemical changes in the body. In the same manner, a responsive field of detectors and actuators such as water collection/purification systems, micro algae bioreactors and photovoltaic cells are assimilated in the very ‘flesh’ of the membrane. The product of the natural processes will be consumed in maintaining a stable condition and reduce energy consumption. In the case of overproduction, excess resources can be ‘harvested’ through an interior interface. Customized translucency, outlook and ventilation is achieved in the manner of which the users handle the resources and thereby help maintaining the membrane. This interaction between external fluctuating forces and internal demands gives rise to a highly dynamic architecture where the naturally and artificially imposed forces have a direct influence on its performance.

This development calls for an understanding of not only ecological processes, but also the integration of multiple sciences in the design process. Advances in bioengineering and nanotechnology are useful, but a truly integrated ecological design will rely on a tight fruitful collaboration across professional boundaries.
The homeostatic Membrane hosts vessels of biological matter, flexible tissue, vent corridors, dynamic probes and a ‘vascular’ system connecting the vessels.
The organic matter constitutes along with the devices a biosynthetic ecology within the membrane. A responsive field of detectors and actuators such as water collection/purification systems, micro algae bioreactors and photovoltaic cells are assimilated in the ‘flesh’ of the membrane. Exposing vessels of circulating algae culture to the sun, triggers the algae’s photosynthesis. In sequestering carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, the integrated algae bioreactor ensures a healthy interior climate. Biomass is a bi-product of the process that can be used for multiple purposes. From the biomass collection vessels, users can harvest and culture the algae population. Photovoltaic cells are interwoven into the exterior skin. Rather than being clustered secluded solar modules, the cells are strategically scattered throughout any sun-exposed areas. Folding the skin into wrinkles increases the exposed area and directs the cells towards the sun.