For bio-inspired and nanotechnology-enabled cities

November 17, 2015


Together with the city of Braga and the Foundation Francisco Manuel dos Santos, INL inaugurated the Urban Algae Folly, in Praça da República, in Braga (Portugal).

The Urban Algae Folly design by ecoLogicStudio is an interactive integrating living micro-algal cultures, a built example of architecture’s bio-digital future.

Sensing, power, and communication are some of the distinct features of living organisms. How can we use nanotechnology to bring these bio-inspired features to structures, buildings, and entire cities? The Urban Algae Folly experiment invites us to consider some possibilities for the near and long-term future”, said Lars Montelius, Director-general of INL.

Microalgae, in this instance Chlorella, are exceptional photosynthetic machines; they contain nutrients that are fundamental to the human body, such as minerals and vegetable proteins; microalgae also oxygenate the air and can absorb CO2 from the urban atmosphere ten times more effectively than large trees.

The innovative architecture of the Urban Algae Folly originates from the evolution of the well-known ETFE architectural skin system; in this instance, it has the ability to provide the ideal habitat both to stimulate Chlorella’s growth and to guarantee visitors interaction.

In any given moment the effective translucency, the colour, the reflectivity, the sound and productivity of the Urban Algae Folly are the result of the symbiotic relationship of climate, microalgae, humans and digital control systems.

This is one of many actions where we at INL engage in close co-operation with the City of Braga and other regional stakeholders aiming towards the creation of a buzzing nano-ecosystem in the North of Portugal and Galicia. The Folly in itself is an abstract representation of such an eco-system; clearly showing the necessity of interactions at all levels enabling the desired output to be realised”, said Lars Montelius during the inauguration ceremony on November 17th.