How does a lab become a factory?

What is the future of manufacturing in Europe? The project speculates that existing research in organ regeneration will soon be applied on an industrial scale in a factory-laboratory-hospital setting where organs are grown and transplanted. Plastic surgery, prosthetics and transplants are now part of the everyday, but organ regeneration is only just emerging as a medical field. We have never cultivated human biology outside the body at this scale – will the factory become a laboratory or will the laboratory become more like a factory?

How does a factory become a lab?

As the biotechnology industry makes further advances in the field of regenerative medicine, the public attitude becomes ever more ambiguous and challenging. Advances in care for patients allow for longer and healthier lives and gives hope to those who had no options in the past. However, recent research strays into territories of moral discomfort and poses pressing ethical questions. On the one hand the black market in organ transplants is ever growing and harder to control and uncover, on the other the notion of growing body parts in an industrial setting is a controversial one. What is the relationship between the commercialisation and commodification of human tissue and 'living products' and its architecture?

The project proposes a campus for the production and subsequent transplantation of human organs. The site is on a biotechnology park on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany.

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A collagen, some biological material to seed it with and a bioreactor. These are the basic elements to grow a human organ.


How do you make a kidney?
An organ scaffold is seeded with biomaterial and placed in a bioreactor. This machine mimics the environment of a human body, so the cells start to differentiate and form a functioning organ. But this process is slow - 6 to 8 weeks. And finally the organ is transplanted into the patient.
In this way the spaces can be organised by their interdependent relationships as well as their hierarchies. Thus the bioreactor becomes the 'heart' of the operation in order to accommodate the long incubation periods and 2 manufacturing labs can share 1 decellularization lab and clean corridor.


27 LAB CLUSTERS producing 27 ORGANS a day.

The spatial sequence is informed by the production process itself.


The project is organised around 3 bioindustrial silos that house the biobank (on the ground floor), the surgeries (on the first floor) and the bioreactors on the lab levels.
Groups of research and manufacturing labs are clustered around the silos. Their configuration was informed by proximity to the bioreactors, circulation routes (of both humans and organs) and the layering of thresholds. The decellularization labs protrude out into the public spaces and are attached to the more secure clean manufacturing labs via the gowning spaces.


The skin exposes the internal structures of our body and creates a new volume, adjusting to both a loose and a tight fit.

Labs are organised around their thresholds, as the spaces within need to exist in a form of isolation to provide sterile environments. Gowning spaces ( a buffer between clean and dirty labs) reveal that that line in space is drawn not by a wall or a door but is in fact defined by the lab worker swinging their leg over the bench once their boots are on. The true divide is formed by the body and its actions.

The skin is the ultimate threshold, a continuous mediator between ex vivo (outside the body) and in vivo (inside the body).



Ex Vivo - Outside the body

In Vivo - Inside the body

The envelope functions as a continuous skin that forms a series of thresholds where the flesh and scaffold of the building are interwoven and define the isolated zones of production as well as the transitional spaces that allow for informal meeting between the various groups that occupy the building. The external skin is made up of 2 layers, a textured exterior and smoother interior face, which form a gap into which structural concrete is cast. The thinner internal skin is a glazed perforated surface that reveals glimpses of the labs.