Post-Carbon Alchemy


Biochar is an ancient-like material that is receiving increasing attention due to its beneficial uses in mitigating climate change. It was first discovered in terra preta, a highly fertile soil used over 2000 years ago in the Amazon basin. Biochar is produced by heating biomass in an environment with very little oxygen (pyrolysis), resulting in a highly porous product capable of absorbing water, nutrients, and promoting microbial colonization. Primarily, the material is used to improve soil quality while simultaneously storing carbon in the long term.

During her residency period, the artist constructed and installed a pyrolysis kiln at the Domaine for the production of biochar. Inspired by the principles of adobe construction, she crafted a new material primarily using the biochar produced with the kiln, along with a mixture of local soil and straw.The result of her material research was a collection of functional sculptures with potential applications in the fields of bioremediation and thermal regulation. Due to the material composition, the pieces can be reintegrated into the soil once their purpose has been fulfilled.

Post-Carbon Alchemy envisions a near future in which communities have organized themselves to construct habitable spaces from their own organic waste, which they transform into biochar. These spots function as climatic shelters that attract diverse species, including animals, humans, birds, insects, and other creatures like fairies, druids, and elves.

Realised with the support of  Medialab Matadero research grant 2022-2023.
Artisans | Enric Orobitg & Josep Matés

Credits to Laura Guerrero  (PhD Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology)

Photography | Samael Covarrubias, Laia Amigó, Andrés Alejos

Find it in Future Materials Bank (Jan Van Eyck Academy)