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Typology: Digital Tectonics – Fabrication Ecologies Status: realised Location: Barcelona Year: 2013 Research Center: Institute of Advanced A… Read More
Typology: Digital Tectonics – Fabrication Ecologies Status: realised Location: Barcelona Year: 2013 Research Center: Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalunya Design Team: Marisa Charusilawong / Drew Carson/ Vincent Huyghe/Iker Luna Read Less
Published:
Phase1
 
 
With the focus within the design community towards green technology; there has been an emergence of bio-composites. Some make the statement that biocomposites work better than standard composites. Hemp posses a great fiber that should be utilized within biocomposites. The branches of hemp, with their hollow core, work exceptionally well at retaining resin thus creating a more solid material. Focusing to- wards the innovative properties involving bio-composites we have discovered our research. How can we manipulate the fiber properties of hemp through branching?
 
With a relatively short growth cycle of 120 days and the ability to be planted densely at a rate of 3 to 5 hundred plants per square meter hemp has great potential to become a cash crop. Hemp is a plant that has a wide range of uses. In fact, “cannabis sativa” means “useful” (sativa) “hemp” (cannabis). The plant is very tall; ranging in height from 1.8 to 4.8 meters with majority of each hemp plant being comprised of a thin stalk, with no natural branches, and relatively few leaves. How can we train a plant that wants to grow straight up with no branches?
 
While many crops have been biologically manipulated over the years to increase yields, hemp has stayed fairly old-fashioned in its growth. Plants have been forced in many different directions; whether this is by a specific type of farming practice or going so far as to genetically modify the organism itself. More and more today we see a shift back towards natural practices. While some contemporary farming practices still rely heavily upon GMOs or heavy handed farming techniques, we see a niche market to utilize natural practices and augment the growing environment to manipulate the plant’s growth in a specific way. 
We worked towards hacking the plant through branching. Increasing the yield of the hollow branches that have good fiber development these fi- bers could be utilized in bio-composites, a burgeoning new territory of design. A major competitor to hemp is the flax plant which has a shorter height, thus creating a simpler fiber to extract, by hacking the hemp we hope to create a better plant. While some contemporary farming practices still rely heavily upon GMOs or heavy handed farming techniques, we see a niche market to utilize natural practices and augment the growing environment to manipulate the plant’s growth in a specific way. Utilization of new technologies such as the 7-axis robot and other tooling procedures will become ingrained in the study. Monitoring our project from the beginning through the end will help us define a detailed development of fabrication protocols. 
 
Hydroponic Hemp Hacker [HHH]
We chose deep water culture combined with hydroponics drips because this growing method will give us the opportunity to grow the plants in the same setup from beginning to end. This will enable us to collect data for an entire life cycle . The net will give us a good matrix to measure the growth of the plant on a day to day bases. We hope that using this growing method will make the plant branch more and create short strong fibres instead of long fibres which are less suited for use in technical products. The optimal distance between the plants and the CFL-lamps we are using is 30cm so this is the radius of the circle.
 
Parameters
Light: #hours of 24h
Water: If the plants have a lot of leaves, they will drink more. In hydroponics deep water culture, the reservoir is a good biofeedback loop.
Hydroponic drip: # of times the nutrient bags are refilled in 24h
Nutrients:
- Hydro A+B common hydroponic nutrient solution.
- Root fertilizer, this stimulates root growth which creates stronger plants.
Oxygen: #hour of 24h the air pump is working
PH: the ph wile be checked and adjusted if needed every 24 hours to ensure the conditions are always optimal. PH = 5.5/6
Net matrix: every 24h we take a picture to capture to growth of the plant on the net. 
 
Laser cut
Material: playwood
Thikness: 15mm
Time: 35 min
Waste material: 11.4%
Engraving: Yes
 
Data records