The Natural Materials Lab promotes equitable design using natural, readily available, low-carbon, non-toxic, and uncalcined building materials.
Our research and teaching craft new ways to understand and imagine socially equitable and environmentally sustainable futures, by fostering connections across the arts, humanities, and engineering.
The Lab’s mission is to investigate the following lines of inquiry:
Advance innovative research on the intersection of natural materials, energy simulations, social equity, occupants’ health, speculative design, and construction methods.
Create new material mixtures using traditional practices while re-employing earth building science advancements.
Invent critical technologies to integrate natural and living materials into innovative architecture by developing advanced fabrication through both digital 3D printing and highly manual crafting techniques.
Develop environmental and social LCA (ELCA & SLCA) tools that address global urgencies and enumerate impacts such as carbon and energy, health and wellbeing, local employment, circular economy, community engagement, and access to resources.
Over the Fall 2020 semester, Assistant Professor Lola Ben-Alon hosted a mini-series on natural and living building materials as part of the GSAPP Conversations podcast. The Natural Materials mini-series consists of conversations with designers, builders, and product developers of clay, bamboo, fibers, and bacterial concrete. Natural materials are defined as minimally processed, readily available, nontoxic, healthy, and engaging materials. They are critically needed to reduce carbon emissions and extractive harmful impact associated with conventional building materials.