Recently, developing sustainable architectural materials from renewable resources is gaining great interest. This interest is intended to alleviate the drawbacks of petroleum-based materials and their contribution in the escalation of CO2 emissions causing the current environmental deterioration. Achieving sustainability through developing efficient architectural materials have been always conditioned by technological advancements and economic potential. This has affected the architectural design and construction sectors, especially in times of disasters or economic crisis, resulting in paralysis in the architectural construction and material development. These effects were caused by the capitalization and centralization of architectural construction industries.
The recent trend of self-sufficiency that had first emerged in environmental activities supporting recycling, environmental purification and conservation, oxygen, food, and electricity production, has extended to cover more sophisticated products, such as wearables, gadgets and architecture. Achieving self-sufficiency in architecture is of interest to multidisciplinary researchers who focus on developing both self-sufficient systems and materials as the two main components of the built environment.
Developing architectural materials aims to provide cheap, recycled, renewable, environmentally friendly, durable and sustainable building material regardless of the possibility of the autonomous production of these materials on a popular democratic basis. Architectural building materials production was always and still is considered a massive industry that is centralized in major firms and LTDs, limiting the architectural construction process to the availability of major economic capacity. This centralization had its merits in forcing forward large-scale economies and vitalizing the architectural design and construction market, but only on the large scale; however, this centralization shows its drawbacks every time in disasters or economic crisis, causing almost total paralysis in the construction industry due to economic impotence caused by different reasons. Moreover, the centralization of the building and construction industry have affected developing communities, causing economic drawbacks and creating a ripple-like crisis in housing.
In this paper, the authors propose the self-sufficiency approach in the development and production of sustainable architectural material from abundant and renewable microbial agents, in order to democratize and popularize material production on a domestic and personalized basis.
The current work presents Bacterial Cellulose (BC) as a structural and membrane material in different architectural elements and applications, developed through simple and domestically applied procedures in order to create distributed and self-sufficient productive units for architectural materials production.
The current study aims specifically at the easiness and simplification of the production practices and procedures of the biopolymers, and specifically bacterial cellulose for encouraging and establishing the popularization of self-sufficient production units of these renewable and abundant biopolymers. In this regard, the current study is part of the ongoing research on enhancing the mechanical properties of bacterial cellulose in order to use it for structural applications, that will be further developed in terms of medium optimization, bacterial cellulose production efficiency analysis, and material mechanical and physical properties testing.
The following sections will contain a literature review on the chemical base and physical/mechanical properties of biopolymers including bacterial cellulose, followed by the experimental work conducted in this paper to develop bacterial cellulose as an architectural material. The results were further analyzed through formal and structural customization proposing possible applications in architectural design.