Biotechnology in the Built Environment

Newcastle and Northumbria Universities have been jointly awarded 8 million from Expanding Excellence in England to create the world’s first research hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE). The innovation will launch in August 2019 with the aim of developing sustainable materials and architectural structures which  are responsive to the natural environment.

The educational hub is made possible through investments which will support projects (throughout England) in developing new areas of research and industry. “This is incredibly exciting opportunity to create a new field of research,” says Hub Co-Director Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson, a Reader in Design Computation in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University.  “By bringing together architects, engineers and bio-scientists, working with industry and investing in state-of-the-art facilities we are aiming to rethink the building industry.”

The programme aims to develop materials which help us better understand the microbiome of the built environment and how people navigate it. By developing living materials and architectural structures, the project will tackle waste and energy issues, whilst constructing architectural models which can be implemented now. “We want to use the very latest biotechnologies to create living homes that are responsive to, and protective of their environment and the people who live in them,” said Hub Co-Director Professor Gary Black, an expert in protein biochemistry in Northumbria University. “The current construction of buildings is unsustainable due to its carbon footprint, the hope would be to use this model in housing in the future.”

HBBE will comprise of a micro design lab (based in Northumbria) and a macro bio-design lab (based at Newcastle) which will allow the students to develop new technologies; from environmentally friendly molecules to materials. The hub will also include The OME, an experimental house where students will be able to test their research. By creating a platform where students can implement their findings in a real-life setting, it is hoped that the programme will help develop sustainable architectural materials and systems that can be implemented immediately. 

To view more about the project, click here

Image credit: Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE).


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