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Bio-based Materials Collaboration Research

Research Open House 2024

Hemp objects are presented on a table for viewers to look at.

Maria Vrdoljak, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Gregory Merryweather, Adjunct Associate Professor, CCE

Jacob Cook, Jeremias Emestica, Guillermo Garza, Emily Giang, Fae Johnson, Cazandra Romano, Charlie Schumm, Vivian Sun, Elias Xian, Yutong Xie, Maxwell Wolfe

School of Architecture

The building industry extracts, consumes, and ultimately discards more than 3 billion tons of raw material each year. Conventional building materials are globally sourced, carbon-intensive, often minimum-performance, and account for approximately 11% of global carbon emissions. In a post-carbon, near-future world, we will have to reimagine how radically and with what we build our buildings. The development of applications of bio-based materials for building and the adoption of new construction practices demands creative, thorough, and quantifiable research for their introduction to elicit meaningful change in the building industry. 

Our research aims to understand the potential of bio-based materials and how they will change the kinds of construction materials and the architecture we make. Our research and experimentation through physical making focuses on hemp and includes mycelium, bioplastics, and other bio-based materials. We research their origins—where do they come from? how has it been used? Practically—what does it do well? Experimentally—what else could it do? Through sourcing, material testing, experimentation, and prototypes at a 1:1 scale. We prioritize the craft of making as a creative act that is inseparable from the craft of making architecture to consider this material’s potential effects on the traditional linear model of products and materials and the relationship between building and the environment.

A diptych showing compressed hemp is shaped around a wooden frame to create an inset structure in the first image and compressed hemp is shaped around a wooden X to create a rectangular structure in the second image.
The hemp objects are presented on a table for viewers to look at. Two people stand behind the table.