Microorganisms can produce materials similar to those currently used in construction: insulation, plastic and stone-like substances. These materials are generated as microbes consume waste: construction waste, refuse, sewage sludge, agricultural waste, and desalination effluent can be transformed into new materials.
Microbe-construction is a process of improving our building culture through cultivation and fermentation: arranging nutrients and enacting specific environmental conditions to orchestrate growth and decomposition.
Where our waste is collected municipally or consolidated through industrial processes, microbe materials can be grown in a large-scale operations as add-ons to our conventional waste management systems. Living with microbe-structures, cultivation can be more individual. Inhabitants assume the role of the designer-cultivator. Maintenance no longer entails a trip to the Home Depot, but involves a continual process of cultivation in fungal gardens, fermentation vats and nutrient preparations where residents develop the materials that best suit their needs. Strains can be identified and selected for their performance, for example: rate of growth, resistance to infection, color, durability, or insulation value. Neighborhoods are defined by microbial strains.
While some microorganisms can produce desirable building materials, others create conditions dangerous for humans. Microorganisms already exist all around us, in us and on us, in a constant struggle for dominance; the cultivators of microorganism structures must work to maintain a healthy culture. As new atmospheres and environments challenge the way that we cohabitate with other life forms and designers learn to manipulate these cyclical building systems, a new non-linear architecture emerges.