Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a military research agency has long been involved in making very advanced technological devices and processes that people can enjoy in reality.
With the launch of Engineering Living Materials (ELM) program, DARPA has now envisioned the development of building materials having an ability to grow on-site (on demand). Those materials would also be able to repair themselves (self-repair) and adapt to the changing environment as, for example, roof tiles could help in controlling airflow and keeping the houses warm in winter and cool in summer. Buildings with such materials could be developed from scratch with very little material and shipping costs. Moreover, they could remain for centuries with less or no requirement of repair.
“The vision of the ELM program is to grow materials on demand where they are needed. Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we can ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources. And, since the materials will be alive, they will be able to respond to changes in their environment and heal themselves in response to damage.”
Although this vision of self-repairing construction materials looks like a fiction, some of the technological advancements have already made some of it a reality. For example, self-repairing concrete has already been reported by researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Moreover, biologically sourced structural materials have been developed from inexpensive feedstocks; building materials developed from bacteria, and packing materials obtained from fungal mycelium. ELM thinks of combining these technologies to make a futuristic technology.