We continually see the path to innovation paved by collaboration, and this smart brick is no exception. The development process for this brick is being driven by a diverse, interdisciplinary team that have the aim to allow us to co-live with our housing.

A cool project with an unfortunate acronym, LIAR or Living Architecture is developing construction bricks composed of biofilm that can harness solar energy, wastewater, and air pollution, and turn them into usable resources. The living bricks fit together to create ‘bioreactor walls’ that can be programmed to perform all sorts of functions. The inventors say the new, sustainable construction material could be worked into homes, public buildings, and office spaces.

Newcastle University coordinates the $3.6-million interdisciplinary project involving experts from the universities of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Trento, the Spanish National Research Council; LIQUIFER Systems Group, and EXPLORA. The bricks are equal parts awesome and gross. Inside each of them is a microbial fuel cell which is filled with programmable synthetic microorganisms. A variety of microorganisms will reside in each chamber, specifically designed to perform one of a number of functions, including purifying water, reclaiming phosphate from the air, generating electricity, and creating detergents. Robotically activated and digitally coordinated, these bricks are as smart as they are savvy, capable of turning ordinary buildings into efficient machines.

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