Andrew Michler

In Vitro Habitat: a House Made of Meat!

by , 07/08/10

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We’ve waxed lyrical about botanical walls, green roofs and living treehouses on Inhabitat for years – is the next logical step a home made from animal tissue? Mitchell Joachim from Terreform thinks so.

From the boundary-pushing team of archi-visionaries who brought us the fabulous Fab Tree Hab comes a new (and somewhat disgusting) way to grow a structure — using animal flesh! The In Vitro Meat Habitat is a futuristic concept home composed of meat cells grown in a lab. We can’t imagine that these residences are going be replacing suburban tract homes anytime soon, but it sure is a provocative idea! The creator of the concept, Mitchell Joachim, is a futurist with a twist– he says he is actually developing the concept in a lab.

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Before you start crafting your protest signs, Dr. Joachim explains It is intended to be a ‘victimless shelter’, because no sentient being was harmed in the laboratory growth of the skin.” He envisions a wall in which tissues, skin and bones replace insulation, siding, and studs respectively. For fenestration, or openings of windows and doors, he envisions sphincter muscles that can open and close. Current prototypes are pig skin cells grown around a recycled PET plastic scaffold.

Dr. Joachin admits that the home is not all that pretty, but his work in exploring radical new ways to create futuristic buildings is a provocative reminder that sustainability requires a radical new vision of our cities and homes.

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+ Previous Terreform Concepts on Inhabitat

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21 Comments

  1. bpw December 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Whoever lived there might worry about people eating them out of house and home.

  2. johnthearchitect August 11, 2010 at 4:41 am

    this seems pretty radical and could be the future. Us architects love new and exciting aproaches to materials. i\’d love to work with halibut flesh on some afforrdable housing projects that we\’re working on, even if it was just the porch or lean-to to start with. when\’s this available, does anyone know??

  3. willis July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

    This project is an amazing experiment– see the BioWorks lab they built in Brooklyn and read the facts about in vitro growth. Obvoilsly you cannot grow a whole house by using test-tube meat, it would cost a fortune. Even to make a football sized model of the house, the cost would be $3,000 a sq/cm. That is not the point! Tomorrow may be a much different cost factor.
    As far as the reality of shaping tissue to find geometry, it is possible and proven. Using tissue engineering in architecture is an absolutely brilliant idea and never explored in a lab previously. Their clever use of tissue to seek out potential architectural solutions is an original addition to the field of design.

  4. dinkins July 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

    They’re probably showing a bladder being grown by another lab, because meat house project actually wasn’t grown. It never lived or died; they just glued beef jerky to some plastic. Check out the facts about this project in: Heather Smith, “Why No One Wants to Eat the Meat House,” Meatpaper, issue 10.

  5. jjscott July 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I’m curious as to why a photo of a lab grown bladder was used in this article.

    In fact it’s a different still from this exact photo shoot of the bladder:

    http://dsc.discovery.com/technology/tech-10/tissue-engineering/bladder-324×205.jpg

  6. erikig July 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    We have been doing this for ages with plant materials. Look no further than the article from a few hours ago about the Vietnamese house:
    http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/09/hang-nga-crazy-house-is-a-creepy-fairy-tale-treehouse-in-vietnam/hang-nga-crazy-house-hotel/

    Animal material was just the next logical step, I’m surprised no one had thought of this earlier.

  7. Inhabitat’s Week ... July 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    [...] before they strike. And from the desk of strange-yet-true comes one architect’s plan to create a conceptual home entirely from meat cells grown in a [...]

  8. MaterialEye July 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Spencer, I\’m with you. I LOVE the idea of growing a building, but rather than meat I think growing something akin to a clamshell makes more sense. All the living stuff could be inside. When it gets diseased or dies, the shell would still be there.

  9. pyrestriker July 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Methinks it would be simpler to genetically modify a Sequoya tree to grow faster to a certain point, and then hollow it out for a house. >.>

  10. Spencer Collins July 10, 2010 at 3:46 am

    @meteoro4594
    What keeps you alive _is_ chemicals, chemicals extracted from the food you eat, the liquids you drink and the air you breathe. These chemicals are used for many things like feeding you, creating hormones, repairing damaged tissue, allowing the creation of memories etc. Every thing in the world is basically created and run on chemicals. The Meat House probably wouldn’t use much energy once it has been grown, it doesn’t have to move anywhere and could probably be run on solar power and a few trace elements. And there would be no need for “harsh and costly chemicals” as this is a living house, a living organism.

    I think it is a fantastic concept that has just sent my mind spinning on this Saturday afternoon. What if the house was a sentient biocomputer? Could the house be programmed to create offspring? Can I eat my house? Can I have one please?

  11. cloneboy July 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    @meteoro4594
    \”What keeps my body alive is not chemicals but the fact that I am alive and with all my different levels of body symbiotic micro-organism,immune system and the rest of my living body systems – NOT PRESERVATIVE CHEMICALS.\”

    That\’s exactly the point I was getting at, and my response was sarcastic. I apologize for not clearly indicating that.

    These proposed structures would be alive, and I presumed that further research would go into developing a way for them to be maintained (ie immune and digestive systems.)

  12. meteoro4594 July 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Cloneboy,

    I think you need to think a bit more before you provide your answers because not everything you say makes sense, with all due respect. What keeps my body alive is not chemicals but the fact that I am alive and with all my different levels of body symbiotic micro-organism,immune system and the rest of my living body systems – NOT PRESERVATIVE CHEMICALS. This conversation is loosing scientific rigor and a grip of reality so I do not want to waste any further time. Enjoy your fantasies.

  13. Reow July 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I think that everyone has missed the point. Organisms (organic material) have evolved solutions to many of the problems we attempt to engineer around. The biggest of these is probably their ability to repair themselves. Others include structure, insulation, protection and biodegradability.

    My guess is that nobody is going to be living in a pigskin house, but that this research (the ability to grow any kind of organic structure) is only the first step in the process that will lead to the future of buildings, vehicles, etc. We already ‘feed’ and water our gardens, imagine our buildings being similar to this. There would potentially be material and labour saving costs if we could ‘grow’ houses; there may also be savings of energy if we design them correctly (e.g. reduced heating and cooling costs, etc). Quite possibly, the house could be ‘fed’ by our waste.

    Symbiosis will be less environmentally damaging, hence more sustainable in the long run.

  14. M. July 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    It’s at times like this I remember the old saying:

    Yes, they laughed at Einstein and they laughed at Edison. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

  15. cloneboy July 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    @meteoro4594
    “And then what kind of harsh and costly chemicals will be needed to prevent the living tissue in these structures from rotting and infesting with the regular micro-organisms that decompose flesh to recycle it as nutrients in the overall food chain process.”

    Possibly the same ones that you need to keep your body from from rotting and infesting with regular micro-organisms and decomposing as you typed that.

    It would seem that you’re envisioning raw steaks, or beef jerky slapped to the outside of a structure being passed off as a house, but this will be living, growing tissue. Possibly with some kind of immune system.

    With a house like this, I could envision a digestive system integrated to provide sustenance to the structure and eliminate household waste like food scraps and even human excreta.

    As for aesthetics, I could imagine walls with chameleon like skin capable of changing colors, biolumenescent lights, fur for carpeting, even transparent windows grown like corneas.

    Even if not for home dwelling, structures like this could find use in the industrial sector, possibly being used to produce antibiotics, ethical furs or as waste treatment facilities.

    This is a very exciting development.

  16. meteoro4594 July 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I find this concept not only grotesque but completely unsustainable. Why growing valuable and expensive animal cell living material to create home structures? I can see growing cells for medical applications but for home/building construction we should use materials that are low cost and have a minimum life cycle impact as well as risks, such as indigenous natural materials or recyclables offering minimum energy consumption and pollution through the life of the building. Now even if meat buildings are possible I cannot envision them bringing any sustainability whatsoever. In fact I see a Pandora’s Box risk from the massive production of animal cell/tissue production that would be required. The creation of living cells would be much more difficult to regulate, and we may have a rise in illegal growth of these living materials. And then what kind of harsh and costly chemicals will be needed to prevent the living tissue in these structures from rotting and infesting with the regular micro-organisms that decompose flesh to recycle it as nutrients in the overall food chain process. This is going directly against Natur’s order and balance. I can give it credit as artistic originality but I cannot take it as a serious proposition for product design. This is at best art, but not architecture, I’m sorry.

  17. Demosthenes Locke July 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

    “Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?”

    “Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”

    “Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”

    “Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?”

    “First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual.”

    “We’re supposed to talk to meat.”

  18. Hello087387347 July 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Can’t wait to see the knockers.

  19. nazgar July 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    just wondering how a home that needs to be fed and watered is more sustainable then 1 that is \”dead\”

  20. seebert July 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    So how do you keep the house from rotting once it’s dead?

  21. kristiantheconqueror July 9, 2010 at 4:12 am

    This is great! Now I can start building that Zerg colony I always wanted! Prepare to get zergling rushed, n00bz!

    An explanation of what the Zerg are:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zerg#Zerg

    And some samples of their inspiring architecture:
    http://img146.imageshack.us/i/scscrnshot081209195537.png/

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