Self healing concrete

Netherlands (Delft)

Beside a lake in the Netherlands is a simple structure which transforms the relationship between technology and nature and could revolutionise the way we build in the future. The lakeside lifeguard station is the culmination of years of research by Erik Schlangen and Henk Jonkers at Delft University and is the first building to be constructed using BioConcrete, a material which can autogenously heal itself when damaged.

So how does it work? When cracks begin to form in the concrete, water enters and opens the specially formulated bioconcrete capsules. The bacteria inside then germinates and multiplies, and in doing so combines calcium with carbonate ions to form calcite, or limestone, which closes up the cracks. Amazingly the bacteria can survive years in very sparse conditions before being activated by water.

The project’s work will mean that buildings in the future are not constructed to withstand nature, but to assimilate biological materials and organic processes. Currently only months away from being used in large-scale building works, BioConcrete’s future is burgeoning.

Written by

Lauren Burrows, Writer/ Researcher, Atlas of the Future (01 August 2015)

Project leader

Eric Schlangen and Henk Jonkers, Co-founders

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