On the occasion of ACADIA 2022, Dumolab and crafting plastics! studio prepared a temporary installation that brings together biomaterial-driven and computer-controlled manufacturing of aroma-active lattices. 

The installation is a joint effort stemming from ongoing work on the SENSBIOM Project (Senseable biomaterials for healthier habitats) by DumoLab Research for Biodegradable Architecture at Penn’s Weitzman School of Design and Slovakian circular material and design research studio crafting plastics!


In our current research, we set forth the question of materials in the built environment being able to passively identify harmful particles and respond with aroma-active molecule release to help correct the toxicity of indoor air. With SENSBIOM we are on the way to bringing a new perspective on interactive and programmable matter responding to the pressing needs of healthy and environmentally-friendly biomaterial systems in design and architecture.

These 3D printed lattice-like forms are our first prototypes of self-supporting, scented modules made from two types of bio-based materials – biopolymer blends aiming to replace fossil fuel plastics, and water-based biocomposites made from the most abundant biopolymers on Earth such as chitin, cellulose and silk.

Zingernone (4-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)butan-2-one) is the aroma infused into the water-based biocomposite modules during fabrication and demonstrates the potential of air-purifying scents released by active materials. In particular, zingerone can help purify the air as it is thought to have has known pharmacological and biological activities including anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial activity, and hepatoprotective activity.

SENSBIOM project’s ongoing research includes the exploration of using synthetic biology methods to create esponsive and interactive materials by including cell-free biosensors into bio-fabricated biological materials for the architecture and design field. 


Project Team: 
Vlasta Kubušová (PhD Candidate, Slovak University of Technology, crafting plastics! studio), Danny Jarabek (Research Assistant, Penn Graduate Architecture), Shivani Chawla (Undergraduate Researcher, Penn Materials Science), Victor Li (Undergraduate Researcher, Penn Architecture), Abby Weinstein (Undergraduate Researcher, Penn Design), Isabelle Lee (Undergraduate Researcher, Penn Architecture and PreMed), Liam Lasting (Research Assistant, Penn Graduate Architecture), (Camila Irabien (Undergraduate Researcher, Penn Microbiology), Gabriele Ho (PhD Candidate, Penn Bioengineering), Katia Zolotovsky (Rhode Island School of Design), Andreas Mershin (MIT Media Lab), and PI Laia Mogas-Soldevila (Assistant Professor, Penn Graduate Architecture, Director DumoLab Research).

This project has started during Vlasta’s Fulbright reserach visit at Weitzmann School od Design (University of Pennsylvaniea) and has been kindly supported by various institutions including Slovak Art Council (Fond na Podporu Umenia), University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation and the Penn Sachs Program for Art Innovation and currenlty MIT MISTI GSF Funding.