Make Like a Leaf

Architecture as Atmosphere

Turning to the biological alchemy that supports almost all life on earth, ‘Make Like a Leaf’ integrates the building blocks of photosynthesis: air, water, and light, into tools for design.

Photosynthesis is the most promising ‘Net-Negative’ technology we know. The material is fabricated through photosynthetic biomineralization, embedded with cyanobacteria that capture carbon from the atmosphere and transform it into a binding mineral. This research focuses on enhancing the material’s photosynthetic efficiency and maintaining its vitality through hydrogel development, nutrient access, and light transmission.

The result is a carbon-hungry architectural material that must be treated not like a brick, but like a leaf, encouraging a paradigm shift in our methods of construction.

Earth’s first breath: cyanobacteria

Photosynthetic Biomineralization: A solar-powered process that solely relies on the abundant resources of sunlight, CO2, and water, and from it fabricates a product. The precipitation of calcium carbonate is powered by the organism’s photosynthetic optimization. The bacteria will binds any inert substrate, absorbing and sequestering carbon.

Image by NASA’s Earth Observatory Team of global Net Primary Productivity by photosynthetic activity 

/ substrate materials

Optic Calcite

Substrate materials were chosen to enhance the material’s photosynthetic ability. Olivine is an abundant mineral with further carbon capture ability, and calcite is biocompatible with cyanobacteria and has a high refractive index to scatter light throughout the material. 

Microscopic analysis of material
The building blocks of photosynthesis as the building blocks of architecture


The Carbon Chamber was built in collaboration with Jordan Murray and Jessica Evans to test and collect data on the carbon capture ability of new biomaterials



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Scientists and Projects

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