The SourceCivil Engineering MagazineSlideshow: Nature inspires ‘Mitosis,’ a modular building system

Slideshow: Nature inspires ‘Mitosis,’ a modular building system

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

  • view of 5 angled wooden buildings from across a field
  • pedestrian walkway between lush greenery and wooden buildings
  • aerial view of terraces with greenery
  • wooden terrace with chairs
  • a busy kitchen viewed from a wooden terrace through a large glass window
  • a geometrical blue seating area in a white interior
  • terraced wooden building with lush greenery on a harbor

Amsterdam architecture practice GG-loop, working with support from the Amsterdam office of multinational professional services firm Arup, has created a nature-forward modular building system dubbed “Mitosis.” As a parametric design tool that follows biophilic and user-centric design principals, the system reduces the negative impacts of buildings on human health.

With the announcement of the tool, GG-loop has also released hypothetical designs for two developments created using it. “Mitosis-XL and Mitosis-XS are two of the infinite possible solutions that the tool can provide,” explains GG-loop’s founder, Giacomo Garziano.

  • two wooden two story houses

GG-loop’s stated goal was to create an architectural solution that could help answer the current global climate condition with a benchmark design to be used in the real estate and urban development sector. “By working with the natural environments rather than against it, the natural balance and health of the planet can be restored,” reads GG-loop’s statement about Mitosis.

“Mitosis” refers to the biological process of a single cell dividing itself into two separate but identical cells. “It represents the modularity and the long-term adaptation of the system and serves as a metaphor for a flexible co-living organism where each residential unit coexists in symbiosis with all the others and its environment,” according to GG-loop.

In the press release about the tool, Garziano, explains that the Mitosis system “aims to support the daily uses and the tasks of the inhabitants, in order to promote direct and indirect contact with nature. We aim to generate a healthy, emotional, and productive habitat for rest, work, and living.” Human health and well-being are also fostered through the materials used and layouts of interior and exterior spaces, according to GG-loop.

The Mitosis parametric modeling tool works with building information modeling 3D software. The system calculates volumes and internal layouts for individual sites to optimize for a number of specific conditions, including solar radiation, wind impact, privacy, population density, common spaces index, and vertical connections. Using the modules, the tool can be used to create a range of building options, including single-family homes or high-density, mixed-use urban clusters that include shopping, office, and residential space.

The modules are constructed with prefabricated timber and biologically based, cost-efficient materials. These materials capture carbon and use resources more efficiently than more traditional construction materials, according to GG-loop.

Each module is a rhomboid in footprint so that as they are stacked together, they also create large areas for outdoor living. Vertical connections are placed externally to create a sense of privacy for residents within their own outdoor terraces even as the modular system maximizes outdoor living opportunities.

The designs include exposure to shared green areas, tiny forests, and vertical gardens that cascade from buildings — or whatever ecosystems and biodiversity are appropriate for the climate and location of a specific site. While these plantings reduce the heat island effect of a development and foster emotional well-being for people, the benefit of integrating nature into the design is a two-way street: “Our vision … creates a built environment that restores and nurtures its surroundings,” Garziano says.

The ultimate goal of a Mitosis design is to create a net-positive built environment, with each site producing more energy than it consumes, according to the company.

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