Ginger Dosier: When Architecture and Chemistry Mix

chemistry-apparatus-dosierDosier’s fearlessness of the science of construction sets her apart from her peers [image courtesy of flickr]

We were so intrigued by Professor Ginger Dosier, the Architect at Sharjah University who grows bricks by combining sand, common bacteria, calcium chloride and urea, that we decided to dig deeper.  Some architects, like those at Geotectura, develop mindbending concepts.  But we wanted to understand how an architect could come to know so much about microbiology and chemistry, and then dare to leap from science to design? 


Only 32 years old, Dosier already has an impressive resume.  She did her undergraduate work in interior architecture at Auburn and then spent a semester with Sam Mockbee at Rural Studio.  The shift in her design paradigm came just before she began her graduate education at Cranbrook, where she received a Masters in Architecture.

By disposing of her material possessions, she began to contemplate the composition of materials and how their growth and death can be altered.  Driven by big dreams, she studied bio-mineralization and microbiology on her own time, and audited classes in similar subjects. For her Masters thesis, she built a handrail composed of a salt mix that functioned like a hand sanitizer.  And then, unlike other architectural fixtures, Dosier’s design eventually disintegrated.

With help from mentors José Bruno-Bárcena, and James Patrick Rand from North Carolina State University, where Dosier did a visiting professorship in 2005, Dosier was encouraged to scale down her grandiose thinking to smaller and more practical applications.  Though she is a dreamer who has experienced a 98% failure rate, her perseverance conquers.


She accepted the full-time teaching position at the Univeristy of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, and it is there that she whipped up her most startling magic.

After dabbling with scores of take-home crystal sets that taught her chemistry basics, she threw together the mix described above, and so her bricks were born.  Rand told Suzanne LaBarre that most architects stay clear of the science of their construction materials, to their own detriment, and that Dosier’s unflinching curiosity sets her apart.

Next she hopes to program the bricks’ precise composition and fabricate them  on a 3D printer.

A wonderful story of invention mixed with tenacity, with a view towards sustainable and global application, we salute Ginger and anxiously await further news from her laboratory.

:: story and images via metropolis

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