Architects of nature: growing buildings with bacterial biofilms

Martyn Dade-Robertson, Alona Keren-Paz, Meng Zhang, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)


In his text ‘On Architecture’, Vitruvius suggested that architecture is an imitation of nature. Here we discuss what happens when we begin using nature in architecture. We describe recent developments in the study of biofilm structure, and propose combining modern architecture and synthetic microbiology to develop sustainable construction approaches. Recently, Kolodkin-Gal laboratory and others revealed a role for precipitation of calcium carbonate in the maturation and assembly of bacterial communities with complex structures. Importantly, they demonstrated that different secreted organic materials shape the calcium carbonate crystals formed by the bacterial cells. This provides a proof-of-concept for a potential use of bacteria in designing rigid construction materials and altering crystal morphology and function. In this study, we discuss how these recent discoveries may change the current strategies of architecture and construction. We believe that biofilm communities enhanced by synthetic circuits may be used to construct buildings and to sequester carbon dioxide in the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157-1163
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number5
Early online date16 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Architects of nature: growing buildings with bacterial biofilms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this