We’ve never been as conscious as we are today of the necessity of living in healthy homes that minimize negative environmental impacts on our urban centers. For several years, architecture has certainly been moving in this direction, imagining new ways through design to help us return to living in harmony with nature.
Mitosis is a project developed by Amsterdam architecture firm GG-loop, in collaboration with Arup, that goes one step further, using a modular construction system, based on the principles of biophilic parametric design, that’s focused on the end user.
The grand vision of Mitosis is to expand our understanding of the relationship between nature and architecture, increase people’s awareness of this relationship, and promote – among both professionals and the public – the importance of biophilic architecture in response to the climate crisis. Through the project, GG-loop wants to give back to the planet the natural environment taken from it by the built environment. According to the firm, it’s only by collaborating with the environment as it is today that it’s possible to restore the planet’s health and natural balance.
Mitosis aims to support the daily routines and behaviors of residents in such a way as to encourage direct and indirect contact with nature. Our goal is to create healthy, appealing, and productive habitats for rest, work, and living with nature 24/7.
Giacomo Garziano, founder of GG-loop
Mitosis is the follow-up to GG-loop’s award-winning pilot project from 2019. Dubbed Freebooter, the project comprised a pair of prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) apartments in Amsterdam, both wrapped in a parametrically designed timber slat façade.
By broadening the scale of this project from individual dwellings to an urban development, Mitosis was born.
The project is named after the biological process of mitosis, in which a single cell divides into two identical daughter cells. The name, which reflects the modularity and long-term adaptability of the construction system, is an apt metaphor for this flexible “organism,” in which each housing unit coexists in symbiosis with the others as well as its environment.
Mitosis was developed using parametric and BIM 3D modeling software. Using a complex iterative process, the technology generated dwelling clusters composed of prefabricated CLT modules. The volumes and scales are based on the calculation and simulation of parameters related to the specific needs of residents and the situation of each site. Likewise, layouts and volumes derive from the calculation and simulation of parameters relating to specific site conditions, such as sunlight and wind exposure, privacy, local population density, common areas, and vertical connections.
Through the use of parametric design, Mitosis explores how buildings can grow, evolve, heal, and self-sustain, in much the same way as a human body can. This makes biological metaphors, such as regeneration, resilience, and self-sufficiency, more than appropriate.
With its flexible, grid-shaped structure, Mitosis is appropriate for a wide range of applications, from single-family homes – 320 (30m2) up to 1,300 sq.ft. (120m2) – to high-density mixed-use urban developments that incorporate education, leisure, wellness, retail, and other facilities.
The project sets out to combine the technical advantages of environmentally conscious construction with the qualities of an organic and healthy environment in which residents can harmoniously coexist. This is why it uses a modular, prefabricated timber system that optimizes construction times, reduces carbon emissions, and has positive impacts on the living experience of residents.
In his book Biophilia Hypothesis, Edward O Wilson outlines why human beings have a basic need to connect to nature and living systems. Mitosis incorporates the fourteen patterns of biophilic design and focuses on the relationships between nature, human biology, and the design of the built environment. It creates ecosystems in which the inhabitants experience a unique way of living while satisfying their innate desire to connect with nature.
We are deeply and fundamentally a part of nature, but we’ve lost that connection in our modern life. As well as the advantages of improved acoustics and a reduction of CO2 and urban heat, direct contact with nature has also been shown to improve physical and mental health as well as general wellbeing.
Giacomo Garziano, founder of GG-loop
All photos and drawings by GG-loop
Only renders of Mitosis-XL by GG-loop with Hexa Pixel