Bioinspired Living Coating System for Regenerative and Circular Architecture

Anna Sandak*, Karen Butina Ogorelec, Ana Gubenšek, Faksawat Poohphajai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Surfaces of exposed materials are affected by biotic and abiotic degradation processes. They often are protected by architectural coatings that not only provide a decorative layer but also enhance integrity of the material structure. Common surface treatments often include mineral oil binders and other ingredients that are known to have a negative impact on the environment. To address these issues, an alternative bioinspired concept for materials protection based on engineered fungal biofilm is under development. This paper presents the first results related to the bioreceptivity of building materials and the initial steps of natural biofilm formation. 

This research concluded that fungal colonisation and the variability of microorganisms is influenced by the type of material and climate condition at the exposure site. Fungal infestation was lower on protected materials (e.g., with commercial coatings). Samples from the eastern and western exposure exhibited the highest fungal colonisation, whereas samples from the northern and southern exposure exhibited the least growth. Furthermore, the samples in close spatial proximity were colonized by different fungal microbiota. It was determined that Aureobasidium sp. is the dominant species in the early phase of colonisation. 

In the following steps, a bioactive protective coating system that works in synergy with nature will be developed. Based on the initial results Aureobasidium appears to be a viable candidate as an active, living component of a new nature-inspired coating system. The novel protection concept is based on three interrelated components – bioinspiration as a driving force for materials design, bio-based ingredients, and living fungal cells that will provide self-healing and bioremediation capacity. The living coating will be designed to protect various architectonic materials, including porous materials such as biomaterials, concrete, stone, and nonporous, as well as plastics, and metals. The ultimate goal is to advance the development of engineered living materials that interact, adapt, and respond to environmental changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sustainable Architecture and Civil Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • bioinspired coating system
  • bioreceptivity of building materials
  • early fungal colonisers
  • engineered living materials


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