Following a rigorous material study of a mixed clay and concrete composite (claycrete), the project focused on developing a wall system that promotes the growth of a varied plant ecology on its surface. The advantage of such mix is to define a material condition that is both structural and resistant to age, as well as porous and this bioreceptive for growth. Substantial wind analysis via computational fluid dynamic software allowed to define the geometric rules of the building tectonic which was remodelled according to its varied environmental performance.
The composite’s performance in retaining water was created by adding perlite as a highly absorbent, yet also ultra-light aggregate, avoiding the common problem of weight of such porous materials.
A novel taxonomy of plants that grow pervasively on external walls was created with the aim to identify species, mainly ferns, with shallow roots that do not harm the material surface. These were grown and tested in vitro under controlled thermal and humidity conditions over material mixed of different density. The root morphology of the plants and their responsive behaviours to specific natural environments were also explored digitally, suggesting the basic morphology of the overall design. Additionally, a hybrid and novel fabrication system of 3-dimensional robotic clay extrusion over CNC milled claycrete casts allowed for a selective growth system of the wall panels, defining areas of high and low porosity, as well as smooth and rough textural variance of the surface morphology.
The fine balance of material plasticity and gravity, machine performance, and speciation defined the parameters for the overall aesthetic exuberance and depth of the wall panels.