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A structure inspired by trees made of multiple biobased materials

For the Italian Pavilion at the 17th Biennale Architettura in Venice, which runs from 22 May to 21 November 2021, MatRes is a metaphor for a living tree, studying material resiliency by using biological, organic, sustainable, and/or recycled materials.

The project, designed by Politecnico di Milano, was inspired by a tree, an immobile living organism, which has a system of resilient strategies that can transform adversity into vital advantages.

Suspended to the ceiling of the Arsenale and based on a wooden platform that consists of two shifted semi-circles, the installation consists of the outer layer of organic textiles, representing a bark of a tree, and internal vessels of sustainable origin. The “bark” consists of strips of textile, knitted on demand on a CNC-machine, and has two openings to enter and exit.

The internal components, pipes and columns represent the wood fibres, the longitudinal and transverse vessels, and the central pith, using materials from architecture, interior design and fashion. The materials in the installation include Biotape, a biobased, biodegradable and antibacterial yarn; woven mycelium for acoustic and thermal insulation, reinforced by rattan; Spacing Spacer, recycled material that explores the three dimensional structure of the spacer fabric by embedding technological features to set up a circuit on the outer layer; a moss column for cooling effect, acoustic insulation and CO2 absorption amongst other things; a coffee column for thermal insulation; and shape shifting 4D textiles, which consists of pre-stretched elastic fabrics with 2D printed semi-rigid structures.

The research of the Material Balance Research group at Politecnico di Milano concerns the development of these new responsible materials on an environmental, architectural, and technological scale. Through the definition of a new design paradigm, they intend to promote a homeostatic relationship with the environment that preserves resources and at the same time reduces waste. Some experiments carried out by the group are exhibited within the installation set up in the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

Photos: Politecnico di Milano