Architecture

Would You Live in a House of Bricks Made from Pee and Bacteria?

Sarah Zhang-, Gawker Media

Would You Live in a House of Bricks Made from Pee and Bacteria?

To make a concrete bench, add sand, bacteria, calcium chloride, and some really concentrated pee?

When we first saw Peter Trimble's sand and urea bio-furniture-the latter is a chemical most commonly found in pee-we were excited to see human urine put to yet another green use. So we were slightly disappointed to learn that, no, Peter Trimble did not in fact spend weeks or months collecting his urine. This stool is made from sand, bacteria, and pure urea.

But, but! The process is technically possible, and that in itself is a rather fascinating example of what bacteria can do.

Urine-inspired, environmentally friendly biobricks first grabbed our attention back in 2010, when American architecture professor Ginger Krieg Dosier came up with an idea for taking advantage of bacteria's unique capabilities. The microbes metabolize the mixture of sand, urea, and calcium chloride, creating a glue that strongly binds the sand molecules together. Dosier has since created company called bioMason to manufacture the bricks.

The key advantage of these bricks is that they don't have to be fired in a kiln. In contrast, the manufacture of traditional bricks-multiplied over millions of bricks-causes major pollution. These bio-bricks do have an environmental downside, however: the same bacterial metabolism turns the urea into ammonia, which can poison the groundwater.

That brings us to Mars.

Among the speculative ideas for colonizing Mars is shelter made from bricks of sand and astronaut pee. When you're colonizing a distant planet, you really can't let anything go to waste-not even human waste. A team of students in the synthetic biology competition iGEM have investigated bacteria that could help astronauts make urine-based bricks on Mars. Even better, ammonia, which is a poisonous byproduct of brick production on earth, is so alkaline it could help tame Mars' acidic environment. So if pee-and-bacteria bricks don't take off on earth, there's always hope on Mars. [Design Boom-Peter Trimble-Wired-Wired UK]

Lead image: Peter Trimble

Also on Gizmodo

Ten Most Stunning Architectural Wonders in India

prevnext
of 10
  • Taj-Mahal,-Agra,-Uttar-Pradesh
  • Galden-Namgey-Lhatse,-Tawang,-Arunachal-Pradesh
  • Nalanda-Ruins,-Nalanda,-Bihar
  • Ruins-of-Vijaynagar-Empire,-Hampi,-Karnataka
  • The-Iron-Pillar,-Delhi
  • Sun-Temple,-Konark,-Odisha
  • Ajanta-&-Ellora-Caves,-Aurangabad,-Maharashtra
  • Golden-Temple,-Amritsar,-Punjab
  • Fatehpur-Sikri,-Agra,-Uttar-Pradesh
  • Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus,-Mumbai
  • Taj-Mahal,-Agra,-Uttar-Pradesh
  • Galden-Namgey-Lhatse,-Tawang,-Arunachal-Pradesh
  • Nalanda-Ruins,-Nalanda,-Bihar
  • Ruins-of-Vijaynagar-Empire,-Hampi,-Karnataka
  • The-Iron-Pillar,-Delhi
  • Sun-Temple,-Konark,-Odisha
  • Ajanta-&-Ellora-Caves,-Aurangabad,-Maharashtra
  • Golden-Temple,-Amritsar,-Punjab
  • Fatehpur-Sikri,-Agra,-Uttar-Pradesh
  • Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus,-Mumbai
Taj-Mahal,-Agra,-Uttar-Pradesh

The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world, so it is no surprise that it headlines this list. This mausoleum was built in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan over a span of 22 years, as a tribute for his beloved wife Mumtaz. The Indo-Islamic and Hindu architectural style has been used for this monument of love. The famous white marble dome rests on massive white marble terraces and is flanked on either side like sentinels by four tapering minarets. The jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the deceased queen rests within the dome. 

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