Designing Biodiverse Façade Microbiomes

  • YEAR
    Herr, Christiane M.
    Duan, Yawen
    2020 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers
    Construction, Building Materials & Integrated Technology


With improved knowledge of the human microbiome and its interrelationship with biomes of the inhabited environment, architecture is able to address issues of healthy living with new types of design approaches. Previous research in the field has mostly addressed internal building environments, or sought to completely eradicate the growth of microbes such as moulds on building surfaces. Yet recent studies have shown that human health is closely interrelated with the health of various human microbiomes, such as the gut, skin, lungs etc, which in turn depend on exchanges with external microbial communities present in our environments. This study argues that architectural façade design implicitly creates potential reservoirs for microbial biodiversity and determines the likeliness of microbial growth through factors including material selection, sun and humidity exposure and response to local climate. As very little is known about the interplay of these factors in determining the microbiomes of our facades, we present first results of an empirical study on façade biomes, conducted in an urban environment in China. The paper outlines how results can inform façade design, working towards the integration of biology, building science, material science and architectural design to address the challenge of developing dense but healthy urban environments.

Keywords: Façade design; health; microbial community; China; materials.


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