Installations Social good/activism Sustainability Tool/Service


The "Carbonarium" project transcends a single objective, uniting humans and bacteria in dynamic symbiosis, converting bacterial byproducts and waste material into potential building materials and modular products. Highlighting circular connections, it progresses from materials explorations, to speculation of cultivation system with public engagement that nurture reciprocity.


Weiran (Erin) Tao


Despina Papadopoulos


As a multidisciplinary enthusiast, my fascination with the relationship between material studies, everyday objects, and human existence has led me to explore how materials and objects shape our experiences and perceptions of the world. However, during a camping trip, I found myself confronted with the deeper connections between humans and the natural world. Unable to comprehend the strange sounds of the wilderness and decipher the tangible information surrounding me, I felt both scared and distant. Yet, this experience ignited a newfound curiosity and raised important questions within me. What does an interaction truly entail? If it consists of information exchange, storytelling, and eliciting emotional harmony, how might we describe nanoscale interactions? Even if we cannot fully understand something, what can we gain by making an effort to learn about it? What kind of feedback could we expect from such attempts? And could we already be engaging in these interactions unconsciously? How can we represent these interactions to inspire behavior-driven design and technological development? By being more aware of these interactions, can we make better decisions to help heal the world we've inadvertently harmed? As I pondered the complexities of interactions, I began to explore the realm of human-organism relationships. Specifically, I became fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between humans and bacteria. This relationship holds immense potential for inspiring innovation, not only in technology but also in shaping human behaviors. Building upon this curiosity, "Carbonarium" is an experimental project that investigates the complex connections between humans and nature, specifically focusing on the symbiotic relationship between humans and bacteria. This initiative aims to capture the essence of human-organism relationships and foster a cyclical bond between human activities and bacterial growth. By engaging in material experimentation, conceptual apparatus design, and speculative workshop/space for public engagement, "Carbonarium" strives to cultivate behaviors, encourage public participation, and act as a driving force for active involvement in building a sustainable future through subtle shifts in thoughts and actions.


My interests are rooted in symbiotic systems and the microscopic wonders of nature. I enjoy finding creative solutions to challenges, collaborating with various roles within ecosystems, and viewing societies as stories we create. By playfully combining these elements, I aspire to develop exciting and inspiring outcomes. My research begins with studying materials, exploring their connections and potential for creating new systems that benefit both bacterial growth and human needs. I've been amazed by the research and projects I've discovered on microbial cement and self-healing concrete. These materials have the potential to revolutionize construction by reducing energy consumption and lowering CO2 emissions compared to traditional cement. This is achieved through a process called biomineralization, where living organisms, in this case, specific bacteria, produce minerals as a byproducts like calcium carbonate, often to harden or stiffen their existing tissues. Interestingly, this process also occurs in coral formation, as more polyps grow and secrete calcium carbonate, contributing to the formation of coral reefs. This unconventional collaboration with biological entities excites and surprises me. I've started conducting my research at Genspace, learning about the process of working with bacteria, facing numerous failures due to unknown issues, observing my own behavior, the bacteria and well-being and the outcome I intended, and continuously engaging, adapting, and rethinking.

Technical Details

A wet-lab experiment / research Collaboration with bacteria strain: Sporosarcina pasteurii 3D printing Initial material substrate testing with sand, clay, soil, eggshells

Preparing inoculation towards potential sand and eggshell substrate, to provide rooms for bacteria growth and possible biomineralization process.