In this project, I used open-source resources from materiom.org and RISD's Nature Lab Material Guide to experiment with different bio-based materials.
I started by assembling laser-cut frames to cast my bio-plastic mixtures in. In my kitchen, I experimented with different ratios of agar-agar, vegetable glycerin, and water to fabricate a material that resembled plastic. When agar-agar (a biopolymer extracted from red seaweeds) is heated and combined with glycerin (a plasticizer), the resulting mixture cools to form a material that is thin, flexible, and slightly transparent. I used green spirulina and butterfly pea tea to dye the bioplastic.
The semi-transparent samples remind me of medieval stained glass windows and plastic tarps draped over pop-up pavillions-- an interesting mix of the old and the new, the historical and the modern, the forever and the temporary.
Using egg-shell waste and agar-agar, I created a composite material and molded it into miniature bricks. I started by collecting, cleaning, and drying eggshells before crushing them into fine pieces with a hammer. I mixed these eggshell pieces with water and agar-agar over low heat and molded them into small bricks.
Eggshells have the primary function of protecting the life that exists within them. They provide the very first shelters, acting as a safe haven where its inhabitant can grow and adapt. They reminds me of how we interact with the spaces we call our own-- our homes, our rooms, our bodies-- the places that become our own shells.
(And at the end of the summer, Joe, Darreo, Edgar & I crushed them just for fun.)
The built environment is a major contributor to global carbon dioxide emissions. Concrete production specifically is estimated to be responsible for approximately 8% of man-made CO2 emissions (The Guardian, 2019). As the world builds more cities for growing urban populations, the future of engineering and architecture must contend with questions of climate change.
This cementitious material was created using oyster shells, a non-compostable source of food waste that oftentimes takes up space in landfills. These building materials have the potential to be used as decorative tiles and for waterfront designs, such as concrete pilings in elevated structures– a design by the sea, for the sea.