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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Rachel Armstrong – Living Architecture

  • On January 26, 2010

Rachel Armstrong teaches at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, where she is advocating a new approach to architecture — one that sees buildings becoming living things. One of the best things about working at the Bartlett are some of the extraordinary people that you spend time with day to day and while I often get lost in the science when Rachel explains her goals for a Living Architecture, I adore the passion and vision of a truly interactive architecture capable of continual conversation with it built and natural environment.

Key to Armstrong’s work are protocells — little cells of fat that can be sprayed on a building, creating a sort of frosting. These are designed to trap carbon dioxide and solidify it, turning it into solid pearls of calcium carbonate or biolime or mock rock. This coating will protect the building and even mend cracks. These protocells could even be used to stop Venice sinking, says Armstrong. Her plan is that the cells would be programmed to solidify when they get to the bottom of the lagoon, shoring up the foundations of the buildings above and thereby supporting the sinking structures. Find out more at TED and Rachel’s own website.


  1. Reminds me of FLW’s words, who said: “So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture: declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal…”

    we need to step back and rethink how we build because we had it right once and now we lost it again.

    very interesting talk

  2. TED usually invites great people to speak. Same here. Really like Rachel Armstrong and the idea behind her talk. cool!

  3. Might I suggest that your lab crew, and Dr. Armstrong, visit to see what is being done by Dr. Tom Goreau, as he carries on the work in ElectroAccretion / BioRock, pioneered by Professor Wolf Hilbertz, University of Texas, in Houston. Tom worked with Wolf for over 20 years using this tech that accretes layers of sodium carbonate, and magnesium oxide, over electrified wire mesh immersed in seawater, in a process akin to that used by coral polyps to build their protective shells. Wolf is no longer with us, but his vision of building self-assembling cities of the sea should be pursued to save the 16 island nations now at risk from rising waters around them. My group of inventive friends is passionate about bringing disruptive tech and materials forward to build a sustainable future, where no one lacks for clean energy, food and water, with solutions available now, including extraction tech to produce any element on the periodic table, including those not on now, from seawater monatomic elements in seawater suspension, and from the aether, the ocean of subatomic particles around us. My crew of friends have the capability to deploy inertial and hydraulic propulsion, over unity power tech, and other technologies, given the opportunity to do so. One of my friends, Ted, is busy now improving his MMIP (Mind Machine Interface Processor) tech to interface the human mind with machines without physical connection.

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