Collaborations Design Residency

Hyperaccumulating Architectures: Micro Infrastructures for Mycoremediation Strategies

The residency combines mycoremediation techniques and conceptual objects to tackle heavy metal soil contamination. Drawing inspiration from adaptive plant and fungi species known as accumulators and in the face of environmental instability and climate change, it will explore resilient ecosystems through symbiotic infrastructure.



Autumn 2024 | Ljubljana, Slovenia | Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) & Center ROG

Designers: Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez, bioMATTERS
Collaborators: Katarina Grabnar Apostolides and Gobnjak

In the summer of 2023, flash floods struck two-thirds of the territory of Slovenia due to excessive rainfall, serving as a further indicator of global climate change. In the north of Slovenia, this excess flooding led to significant human, infrastructural, and environmental damage and the spread of heavy metals within contaminated soils over a larger region. Data from post-flooding analysis of silt and mud samples in the Meza Valley indicated higher levels of heavy metals including lead, cadmium, and zinc. The project materializes a series of conceptual objects aimed at reinforcing critical reflection on our relationship with a new world of environmental instability that highlights the price to be paid for excessive urbanization and climate change. Hyperaccumulating Architectures speculates on visions of regenerative preservation, exploring the potential of developing a symbiotic infrastructure designed at microscale to impact the scales of ecosystems. It utilizes mycoremediation techniques to reduce heavy metal soil contamination and promote more resilient ecosystems based on a semi-living materiality with a multispecies approach that is open to experimentation with a view to a decarbonised future. The title of the project borrows from the adaptive process that some plant and fungi species known as accumulators go through, making them capable of growing in soil or water with high concentrations of metals, absorbing these metals through their roots and concentrating extremely high levels of metals in their tissues.

Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez, bio MATTERS
bioMATTERS is a research and design studio based in New York City and London founded by Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez in 2018. Their mission is to develop biomaterials and invent methods of biofabrication that counter the negative impacts of environmental and ecological crises. Their process for the design and fabrication of their products includes growing living organisms, creating living-based pigments, upcycling waste materials, integrating computational design techniques, and 3D printing and robotic fabrication.

In their studio/lab, they cultivate and manipulate living cells from soil and aquatic environments such as mycelium, lichens, bacteria, and strains of algae. They have developed techniques and protocols that allow for the propagation of these living cells, their colonization in substrates, and scaling up into various customized biocomposites. Additionally, bioMATTERS has developed a palette of living-based pigments that they use to add color to some of their designs.

Their expertise lies in the development of customized 3D printed and robotically fabricated biomaterials for grown-design, bio-based, and biodegradable materials markets. Their products are made from all natural, organic, 100% biodegradable materials, including upcycled waste materials, and their biofabrication process involves minimal waste.

bioMATTERS are currently resident members at Center ROG and The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana, Slovenia within the project framework of the MADE IN Platform for Contemporary Craft and Design research. They have worked under the support of various residencies including ‘Makers with a Mission’ Makerversity / Somerset House Studios in London, UK, NEW INC / The New Museum in New York, and Futureworks, also in New York.

In addition to their partnership at bioMATTERS, Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez are educators. Nancy Diniz is the Course Leader of the Masters in Biodesign at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including the 2016 New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) award sponsored by Storefront for Art and Architecture NY, MacDowell, EYEBEAM, Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, Korea, and The Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal. Frank Melendez is an Associate Professor at the Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York. He is the recipient of various grants and residencies including the 2018 New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) award sponsored by the Van Allen Institute, MacDowell, and the Nature Art & Habitat Residency (NAHR).