The 15th International Architecture Exhibition, entitled „Reporting from the Front“, aims to identify „frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment an d consequently people’s quality of life“. The Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction at ETH Zürich Dirk E. Hebel addresses this challenge from the perspective of building materials. This perspective confronts the inconvenient truth that the materials required for the building of our cities – such as sand or metals – are finite.
The 21st century needs to spark a radical paradigm shift in how habitats are materialized. The mining-based mentality must move towards an ethic of cultivating, recycling, recovering, breeding, raising, farming, and even growing future building materials. Decentralized, local and renewable production strategies and methods that do not deplete the planet’s resources or energy reserves must be given priority. A shift in attitude would allow developing societies to provide themselves with the building materials required for secure and dignified shelter without forcing them into economic dependencies.
Our contribution to ‘Reporting From the Front’ takes the form of a laboratory showcasing research work produced at the ETH Zürich and the Future Cities Laboratory Singapore in collaboration with partners such as MycoWorks Inc. in San Francisco and the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at the TU Delft. The exhibition features examples of new building materials derived from mushroom mycelium, bacteria, grasses and waste. It also displays the power of an international, interdisciplinary network of researchers, academics and professionals working on commonly defined challenges. ... [more]