Exploration Architecture


The Biorock Pavilion



The BioRock Pavilion is, in some ways, Exploration’s most ambitious project to date. The proposal is to grow a building through electro-deposition of minerals in seawater (using ‘BioRock’ - patented technology developed by Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau). While numerous designers have achieved grown structures using plants, to the best of our knowledge, this would be the first time that a building had been grown from minerals. 

The starting point for this project was to use biomimicry to ask a really challenging question which is ‘How would biology solve the problem of climate change?’ One of the clues to this comes from the Vostok ice core data which show how for hundreds of thousands of years atmospheric CO2 and temperature levels varied within steady limits and then went exponential after the industrial revolution.

According to James Lovelock’s Gaia theory, the corrective mechanism that maintained steady conditions prior to the industrial revolution involved coccoliths. These marine micro-organisms grow skeletons from calcium carbonate and when they die they fall to the ocean bed and become limestone. When CO2 levels rose in the atmosphere there were blooms of coccoliths and carbon was transferred from the atmosphere to the lithosphere – maintaining the balance.

Our conclusion from this was that biology would solve the challenge of climate change by growing more things from atmospheric carbon. Consequently we are pursuing a number of ways in which buildings or materials can be grown in this way.


Exploration created a film about the Biorock Pavilion for the Designing with Nature Exhibition at the Architecture Foundation in 2014. The film describes some of the key ideas behind the project and how the design developed. 


Architect – Exploration
Biologist – Professor Julian Vincent
BioRock expert – Tom Goreau
Structural engineer – Arup
Theatre consultant – Charcoal Blue