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Biocement Chair

Biofabricated chair made from recycled bricks with the help of bacteria

  • one to one chair made from biocement

  • The video shows the manufacturing process and gives insight into the project.

    The video shows the manufacturing process and gives insight into the project.

  • biofabricated chair made from recycled bricks with the help of bacteria

  • a mineral material produced without a firing process

  • old bricks ready to be recycled

  • machine for the production of biocement at work

Ce qu'il fait

Biocement was investigated and used to design a piece of seating furniture. The stonelike material is not requiring a firing process and is using a lot of second live materials. The chair was created to make research more accessible through design.

Votre source d'inspiration

Resource scarcity is one of the key challenges we face as designers. In the field of mineral building materials, especially sand has become a rarity. At the same time, the current linear economy leads to a high volume of waste. The project therefore recycles waste as a new source of raw materials. Another issue is the high energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with conventional mineral production. Burning bricks or ceramics and chemically reacting cement accelerate climate change. The biofabrication of mineral materials, on the other hand, has the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.

Comment ça marche

We processed old bricks from a construction site on the university campus and turned the recycled bricks into Biocement. It is produced by stimulating thousands of bacteria to form solid structures: In presence of urea and calcium chloride, the bacteria is connecting granulated building waste with calcium carbonate. Neither a firing process and thus a lot of energy is required nor CO2 is emitted in the production process. The research involved setting up a DIY-Biolab, building a machine to produce Biocement and developing a 3D-printed formwork system. By automating and continuously improving the self-built machine, it was possible to effectively produce various material specimens and even a chair made from self-produced Biocement. The project also included an open international exchange with scientists and experts in the fields of microbiology, civil engineering and materials research. The collaboration enabled a valuable exchange of expertise and experience.

Processus de conception

The "Biocement Chair" allows one to physically experience the potentials of the raw material, the production method and the material properties. The external appearance of the chair is determined by the logic of the material and formwork system. For us, the design and manufacturing of a 1:1 scale product was the most important step in transferring the material system from the laboratory to a specific typology. The chair consists of three individually manufactured profiles. Each profile is produced within 12 days. The construction is designed in such a way that the formwork parts can be used multiple times for both the inner and the outer profiles. Biocement has high compressive strength but low tensile strength. This is why the rear legs of the chair are positioned slightly to the front and are located just below the centre of gravity of the load. In principle, however, the seating object is not to be understood as an applied product where the design focuses on the use scenario. Rather, it is an archetypal placeholder that draws attention to the novel material itself. As an "object of knowledge", the seating furniture is primarily intended to communicate the innovative manufacturing process. In this form, it provides the decisive physical proof of the theoretical concept.

En quoi est-il différent ?

The Biocement material system is a sustainable alternative to conventional mineral building materials. The material offers sustainable potential at all stages of its life cycle. In terms of material sourcing, waste streams are combined and recycled to replace finite raw materials. Instead of sand, secondary raw materials such as granulated bricks are processed. We have been in close contact with scientists in Cape Town whose work has shown that urea and nutrients can be extracted from waste streams. These residues can be human urine or leftovers from cheese and beer production (Lambert, S.E., Randall, D.G. (2019)). In addition, instead of burning, it is produced by microbial growth: bacteria cause the granules to bond by producing calcium carbonate. After all, the finished material is a harmless natural product. Biocement is among a new generation of sustainable materials, and "The Essence of Biocement" aims to further improve the efficiency of these materials.

Plans pour l'avenir

Eventually, "The Essence of Biocement" proves that Biocement production is possible outside professional laboratories. But the material also offers other innovative potential. Bonding of individual object parts in the same material system is conceivable and opens up further research possibilities for us. In the context of repairability, this approach already exists as "self-healing" concrete. A detailed documentation of the project was created. In this way, we aim to also encourage other designers to explore new areas of design, inspire scientists to work on applied topics, and make companies aware of sustainable and innovative technologies.


Mia Seeger Price 2023 // Nominee, One&Twenty Design Award 2023 // Best of Best, Green Concept Award 2023 // Nominee, Isola Design Award 2022 // Finalist, Lucky Strike Junior Designer Award 2022 // Special Acknowledgement,

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