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Newcastle University | 2018-24

​Supervisors: Martyn Dade-Robertson, Ruth Morrow, Meng Zhang

Designing with living materials, as a burgeoning approach in the field of architecture, requires the development of novel design strategies and fabrication methods. Living cells have the ability to perceive and respond to environmental stimuli and this is an indicator of their intelligence, along with the capacity to form themselves. This thesis raises the question of how designers can guide the growth of a living material that has such tendencies, allowing its inherent capacities to inform the design process. The objective is to develop a framework for fabricating living materials using digital tools, with an attempt to generate new processes and practices around growing organisms. To achieve this, this thesis positions the work within the broader context of New Materialism, helping the emergence of new ideas, while adopting a parametric design approach in the context of biodigital fabrication. Employing the “Research through Design” methodology, this thesis conducts conceptual experiments using fungi as a biomaterial probe to explore concepts, and to generate and assess new design strategies. 


The design experiments illustrate the correlation between environmental growth parameters and morphological changes in a living material (specifically fungi in both mycelium and mushroom form). Developing input-output relations helps in exploring philosophies and concepts, such as plasticity, linearity, and predictability. The experiments raise questions about the extent to which biological systems and their corresponding input-output relations can be considered parametric. If, indeed, they exhibit parametric characteristics, the subsequent question involves understanding the nature of these parametric systems and evaluating whether designers can employ a parametric design method when working with living materials exhibiting nonlinear behaviour.


Answering these questions leads to fabricating living materials by harnessing their developmental plasticity to give form by adjusting the environmental parameters that influence biological growth. Understanding how designers can impact organism growth without direct physical intervention leads to the development of a probability space method as a predictive tool. This method informs designers about how to manipulate input variables to achieve the desired morphological outcome. The method that has evolved through this research, based on predictions of input-output relations, may also apply to other types of biological systems, allowing meaningful interactions between the designer, organism, tools, and form. This interaction suggests that when designing collaboratively with living systems, the architect's role transforms, requiring the relinquishment of control over the material. This, in turn, requires a new set of design processes to emerge.

D. Ozkan, Designing Mushrooms, in Bioprotopia, Prototyping biotechnologies and biocultures for the built environment, Birkhäuser, 2023 (p.170-175).
D. Ozkan, Case 6 - Demonstrating a Material Making Process Through the Cultivation of Fungal Growth, in Pedgley, O., Rognoli, V., and Karana, E. (eds) Materials Experience 2: Expanding Territories of Materials and Design. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2021.
D. Ozkan, M. Dade-Robertson, R. Morrow, M. Zhang, Are mushrooms parametric? in Biomimetics Special Issue, Fungal architectures, 2022. 
D. Ozkan, M. Dade-Robertson, R. Morrow, M. Zhang, Fungal Forms: Utilising Developmental Plasticity as a Biofabrication Strategy, in ICSA, 2025. 
D. Ozkan, M. Dade-Robertson, R. Morrow, M. Zhang, Designing A Living Material Through Bio-Digital Fabrication, in eCAADe Towards a New Configurable Architecture, 2021.
D. Ozkan, M. Dade-Robertson, B. Christgen, Demonstrating a Material Making Process Through the Cultivation of Mycelium Growth, in (BIODIG) 4th International Conference for Biodigital Architecture & Genetics, 2020.

A. Stefanova, T. H. Arnadottir, D. Ozkan, and S. Lee, Approach to Biologically Made Materials and Advanced Fabrication Practices, in Asefi, M. and Gorgolewski, M. (eds) International Conference on Emerging Technologies in Architectural Design (ICETAD2019). Toronto: Ryerson University, 2019.
The Sonoma County Mycological Association-Herbert M. Saylor Memorial Scholarship 
A case study for the Microbiology Society

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