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Digital form generation and fabrication pathways of bio-based materials

The Natural Materials Research Group catalyzes digital explorations of natural and living materials such as clay-rich mass, biological fiber-based insulation, as well as fungi-based blocks and tiles. Our aim is to assess these materials in terms of their environmental, thermal, and structural properties that could lead to their justification and code permission possibilities.

This line of research provides for the involvement of graduate and undergraduate students, to employ integrative methodology and be introduced to mixed methods research assimilating building science-related inquiries with environmental footprint and design process.

By developing digital fabrication tools and construction methodologies to introduce greater design variability for natural materials, this study contributes to the broader adaptation of natural assemblies by allowing form generation that is dictated by a combination of mechanical and thermal properties and reduces environmental impacts by optimizing materials quantities.

We also develop robotic-fabricated clay finishes and tiling systems that empower communities and individuals who self-build their homes. By looking at the implementation of clay-based earthen materiality in a post-industrial context, these studies navigate the unique challenges of working with a material that has been moved, mixed, and contaminated for centuries, and proposed how the everyday person can add to the lexicon of earthen construction.