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Shukhov Lab in New York: Biodesign Challenge 2019

Anna Budnikova, graduate of the GSU Master’s programme ‘Prototyping future cities’ and finalist of the Biodesign Challenge 2019, will present her project ‘Mycokarst: New Generation of Self-healing Urban Materials Based on Fungal Spores’ in New York.

Shukhov Lab in New York: Biodesign Challenge 2019

Biodesign Challenge Summit 2019

Anna Budnikova with her project ‘Mycokarst’ was selected from over 500 students at 36 universities and high schools who worked throughout the academic year to develop their visions. Shukhov Lab leading expert and research supervisor Elena Mitrofanov will present the work together with Anna in New York.

Students from 9 countries are gathering at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Parsons School of Design on June 20-21 for the Biodesign Challenge Summit to showcase projects that use biotechnology to address global challenges.

In case you are in New York, you are welcome to attend the reception! You can find more information here. Finalists’ projects will be showcased at Life in Reply, a gallery exhibition at Parsons School of Design Making Center, opening on June 20 at 7:00 pm.

Can't make it? Join the livestream of final presentations and the award ceremony of the fourth annual Biodesign Challenge* Summit on June 21.

Mycokarst

‘Mycokarst’ is the new generation of urban materials based on karst soil or stone composite and fungal spores that are able to ‘self-repair’ in extreme conditions. Karst sinkhole is the unique natural phenomenon that is caused by the groundwater movement inside the soluble ground rocks. However, in today’s cities, karst phenomena are usually associated with collapses of roads and entire settlements. A number of strategies are used to explore karst topography; however, sinkhole hazards in karst areas, assessing karst presence and their management are not well understood.

The study aims to utilize biotechnologies in relation to materials with a high probability of destruction. It is noted that a material based on the simplest microorganisms has the greatest flexibility and resilience. The study’s focus is on the fungal spores due to their ability to grow and expand along the pores and cracks of the material under moisture and realize biocementation of ground. Based on the karst ravine in Kazan city, the experimental study allowed to prove that fungal spores mineralizes karst`s calcites and produce limestone. The quality of gained carbonates was evaluated by soil`s modules resistant to weight and load up to 40 MPa, as well as by mycelium patterns, differing in density depending on soil`s components. The hypothesis was confirmed: fungal spores produce two patterns - carbonate minerals that provide karst resilience and elastic living matter that binds karst`s grains and shapes the landscape.

Mycokarst is promoted as a new generation of urban materials that is able to ‘self-repair’ in extreme conditions and, as a result, shape a unique morphology without human intervention. An actively developing city has the potential to introduce ‘smart’ methods of monitoring karst processes and new typology of sustainable ecosystem. The breakthrough of the work is that the technology of managing urban ‘non-programmable’ phenomena, demonstrated on the example of karst, can be applied in relation to architectural materials as well.

The project was developed under the supervision of Elena Mitrofanova, Shukhov Lab leading expert.

Over two days, finalists will showcase their projects before esteemed judges from academia, the arts, and industry to compete for prizes.

*The Biodesign Challenge is shaping a new generation of biotechnologists. They partner students with scientists, artists, and designers to envision, create, and critique the future of biotech.