Growth House

Tendril Bridge

Multistory Apartment

Morphable Museum

Community Center

The Molecular House
by John M. Johansen & Mohamad Alkayer
THE MOLECULAR ENGINEERED HOUSE (2000)


The following is a diary created by the owner of a molecular-engineered house written during its construction. It is set in the year 2200.

Day 1:
Excavation begins on site where assembly vats will be placed.

Day 2:
Vats delivered to the building site, along with selected chemicals and bulk materials in liquid form. The various materials are then pumped into the vats.

Day 3:
The code, developed from an architect's designs and then engineered and molecularly modeled, is ceremonially placed in the vat. We are amused that this code represents what long ago were the drawings, specifications, and strategies of construction management.

Day 4:
Molecular growth, in the form of a vascular system, begins. This starts with roots stemming from the chemical composite. Reaching up and out of the vat to ground level, the roots form rudimentary “grade beams" extending horizontally to the edge of the house, where they curve upward to support the superstructure. Cross ribs connect the grade beams and form the ground-floor platform.

Day 5:
The growth of the superstructure starts with the development of primary exterior and interior vertical ribs. The infill of minor connecting ribs-"the lattice"- also begins to develop. The lattices are of varied densities, and are programmed to meet stress requirements-being less dense and more open in pattern where door openings are specified, for example. Fine web work and membranes appear as protective enclosures and interior partitioning. A neural network communicating via transmissions-and not preprogrammed-couples to the vascular system and begins operation.

Day 6:
The upper platforms, supported by lateral brackets stemming from some of the major structural ribs, are accessible by a sprouting central spiral staircase. Exterior protective membranes conceal the interior. The molecules of the membranes link to create an unbroken fabric. The membranes provide openings for access that are prompted by two molecular activities. First, the membranes are infused with electric current by a manual selector that induces the molecules to disengage and form the openings. Second, other molecules, acting as muscles at the opening edge, flex to draw the exterior membrane apart. We enter our house.

Day 7:
For the first time, we experience the space, ample for a small house. Ethereal Iight glows through the translucent membranes. With a signal, these membranes change from translucent to opaque to transparent, providing a view anywhere at any time desired. Our house is self-sufficient, functioning without dependence upon any outside public services. Solar power activates heating, cooling, recycling of wastes, and purifying of water. The vats and vascular system, vital to the growth of our house, remain and will convey additional materials when repair or replacement is required.
Interior finishes grow around us. "Body support," known previously as sofas, chairs, tables, and beds, are springing up from the floor, out from the wall ribs, and hanging from the arched vault-furniture as an extension of the structure itself. The floor, a "morphable topographic carpet," consists of a resilient, molecular, spongy substance that is responsive to our every comfort, whim, or tactile experience.

Day 8:
We return the next day to find our house more familiar. As a "light modulator," the membrane responds to the ever-changing conditions of the immediate environment to appear as cloudy, opalescent, gossamer, iridescent, opaque. We have created an artificial, organic, protective cocoon.

Day 9:
After six days of molecular growth, we move in. The house anticipates our changing needs, expanding the living space to form a small study, repartitioning the master bedrooms, rearranging and redesigning the "body supports," and extending the wheeled legs to a new site. These shape changes demonstrate the flexibility of the molecular engineering.

In future years, if we cannot find a buyer for our house, we will demolish it, or more correctly, the house will demolish itself. The building growth operations will be recycled for future buildings.