Maria Kuptsova




The LiveCycles apparatus is a new bio-artificial system which aims to change the way we impact the environment, and demonstrate how multi-operated processes, from filtering water cycles, to recycling material cycles, can also offer live material - biomaterial - outputs that can generate new life cycles, becoming a potential for our environment’s development and growth.


Plastics, since their invention in 1930, have come to take an evermore present role in today’s manufacture and daily products, becoming what is considered to be an essential raw material. Following the current matter cycles, from extraction to transformation, and the inevitable end in waste, there is a growing presence of plastic particles of under 5mm in length in the world’s oceans. According to a new Policy Brief by Baltic Eye, up to 40 tons of microplastics are released annually into the Baltic Sea catchment, requiring between 450 and 1000 years for these materials to decompose. This generates a new artificial geological layer of marine environment, becoming a precondition for this environment’s metabolic development. Which are the emergent mechanisms and systems that can interact with this Anthropocene scenario? What are the new material cycles and processes emerging? Can we create new interaction protocols and life cycles of matter within this scenario? What is the impact of these processes on the existing ecosystems, ecology and economy of the region? These questions present an opportunity to redefine the marine metabolism, creating new systems of human and non-human interaction with the environment.





LiveCycles is a bio-artificial system which responds to the current challenges, interacting with marine ecosystem through the definition of possible marine material cycles, and proposing a mechanism of plastic extraction, recycling and reuse by the means of nano agent systems. The project questions how small robotic agents can become a new transitional system from built to unbuilt environments and which, in symbiosis with the natural species of the Baltic sea, could act on site, creating interaction between natural and artificial systems. The concept is to engage in a productive matter cycle, fed by the extracted microplastics towards the generation and printing of a bio aggregated material with the use of biological binders. The installation works with Baltic Sea water, firstly extracting the contained microplastics from the marine environment and then, passing through the complex digestion system of nano robot, bio aggregating its particles into a material which can be reused for the further proliferation of this same marine environment.


Identifying a method of microplastic extraction from the sea water, testing the growth of several bacterium for natural binding, as well as envisioning potential methods of bio aggregated plastic printing, the project aims to provide alternative material solutions, recycling methods and matter cycles. The installation plays with the scale and invites visitors to observe, become part of and understand the process of filtration, bio aggregation and printing of recycled microplastics through the demonstration and simulation of material processes, as well as laying its foundations in already existing innovative technology and research. The installation consists in an enlarged mircoplastic digestion system, allowing the visitors to emerge themselves in the process itself, fully grasping the comprehensive BioMatter Cycle, from the water filtration to the bio aggregated material system and production.



The project was developed by the AAC Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the AGG Advanced Architecture Group, for the TAB Biennale in Tallinn in 2017


Project team:

Maria Kuptsova – Concept, Design, Development, Fabrication, Coordination 

Raimund Krenmueller – Development, Design and Fabrication

Rodrigo Aguirre - Computational Design

Mathilde Marengo - Concept and Initial Research

Areti Markopoulou - Concept Development

Nuria Conde Pueyo - Biology expert

Mehmet Berk Bostanci, Karthikeyan Dhanabalan - Physical computing

Thora H Arnardottir, Firas Safieddine, Ricardo Mayor Luque, Jessica Dias, Jesus Ariel Valenzuela Hernandez - Documentation, Visualisation and Logistics

Agustina Ros y Ferrán Collado, Barcelona Glass Studio - Fabrication collaboration

Research collaboration: Complex Systems Lab - UPF