Neo Stone Age - domesticating limestone

Erco Lai

Keywords: Materialexperiment, Limescale, Speculative,

We are at the turning point: on one hand, we gradually realize that mainstream manufacturing methods have a strong impact on the earth and our environment; on the other hand, we attempt to fix problems from the human being's perspective, or even worse, only put an effort on short-term solutions. As a designer, I am interested in mimicking geo-systems in order to rethink manufacturing systems. As an Earth dweller, I wonder how to find a balance between control and self-organization, and work with earth as an equal partner.


Graduation Project

Calcium carbonate is a common material widely spread on Earth; it is dissolved in rivers and lakes; we can find it in skeletons and shells; it forms "tufa" and "stalagmites"; it builds up caves and mountains and it is also in our kettles and water pipes. It has various applications in our life in agriculture, food industry, glass industry and cement production. However, the main resource of limestone nowadays is mostly from quarries, we extract from the land and create messy "tailings" in the landscape. What kind of alternatives could we find in our surroundings?

One of the forms of calcium carbonate is "limescale", a matter we produce in our water softening processes yet is often overlooked and discarded. In my research, I attempt to reintroduce limescale as a promising material to build and live with. I research how to reconfigure limescale and focus on creating "geopolymers", a chemical process to bind inorganic materials together. Based on the material research, I speculate what a "neo stone age" would look like, and how this harvesting and production method could be integrated into the city, and change both our interiors and exteriors. Can we become Earth dwellers in this domesticated landscape?

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