The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design - the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With more than 20 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. I am one of about 50 gallery ambassadors.
At the Lillis Business Center at the University of Oregon, biodiversity scientist Jessica Green, Ph.D., and her colleagues Brendan Bohannan, a professor of ecology, and G.Z. (Charlie) Brown, a professor of architecture, sampled microbial diversity in more than 300 rooms. They discovered that different room types contain very different microbial ecosystems. Factors influencing ecosystem composition included internal airflow, human traffic flow, temperature, and connection to the outdoors. Invisible ecosystems containing trillions of microorganisms cover virtually everything in the buildings where we live and work. Most of these microorganisms are beneficial. They boost our immune system, help us absorb nutrients from our food, and may even play a role in helping to regulate mood, anxiety, and depression. Some, however, are harmful, contributing to a host of maladies, including asthma, allergies, and infectious disease. By better understanding how microorganisms interact with each other, with human beings, and with materials, we can design down to the microscopic level, and facilitate the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Soon designers will be able to use an innovative tool, code named Project BiomeView, which will help to visualize and analyze the consequences of design decisions on microbial ecosystems.
Our bodies are covered with more than 10,000 species of microbes. Every time we touch anything — from coffee cups and cell phones to this very display table — our personal ecosystems exchange microbes with the object’s microbial ecosystems. Project BiomeView is the first of a series of biome-aware design tools being built on Project Cyborg, a cloud-based research platform that accelerates the introduction of new design applications in the life sciences and beyond. Recognizing the potential impact "for good or bad" that microorganisms can have on human life, architects and biologists have begun to explore how architectural design can influence the distribution and types of microbes present in the built environment.
Imagine a future where architects decide the best materials for flooring and walls or where to position doors and windows based on promoting the growth of bacteria that will help us while minimizing the potential for growth of bacteria that hurt us. This would be particularly true for hospital construction but could even apply to home building.
Thanks to Global Content Manager, Matt Tierney, who provided some of the content for this blog article. The bacteria images are included by permission and are copyright Dennis Kunkel of Microscopy, Inc. The gallery at One Market is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us.
Bacteria are alive in the lab.