Green Futures Lab

October 10, 2023

Metabolic Matters

What is biochar and how can it help designers address the unique challenges of urban landscapes as well as regional and global issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change? How can designers use the concept of metabolism to cultivate systems of biological, cultural and economic function that lead towards climate stability and resilient systems of life?

This book begins to explore these topics with the goal of fueling and supporting the metabolic fires of creativity for designers who have the opportunity to explore the use of biochar. It attempts to distill the fundamental story of biochar’s origins and wide-ranging capacity as a soil amendment and tool for climate and nutrient management into a digestible guide that empowers designers to creatively employ the material according to their own project needs and design goals.

The guide has its basis in a 3-month independent study-abroad trip to Sweden and Finland sponsored by the Valle Scholarship and Scandinavian Exchange Program. The author, Justin Roberts, conducted a series of site visits and interviews with members of the Rest till Bäst project, an interdisciplinary group working to advance biochar use in Sweden to center the guide in innovative real-world projects that are advancing the use of biochar through a variety of strategies. The Green Futures Lab is pleased to sponsor and distribute this guide, with deep thanks to the Valle Program for funding the study, the Scan Design Foundation for funding the publication, and to the Rest till Bäst project, in particular Ann-Mari Fransson, for helping the author connect with this group and providing guidance along the way.

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