Buildings made of bones

Cambridge researchers explore bone and eggshell as greener building materials of the future.
Synthetic bone
Synthetic bone material

In May, we reported on a team of researchers who had 3D-printed regenerative bones for surgical procedures. Now, a research group at Cambridge is exploring the possibilities of replacing concrete and steel with lab-grown bone or eggshell building materials. Headed up by bioengineer Michelle Oyen, the research team aims to find a greener alternative for current building materials, which emit a substantial amount of carbon emissions into the environment.

The project draws from biomimetics, the imitation of nature’s structures and systems to solve human problems. In a recent press statement, Oyen acknowledged that there would have to be a large shift in the construction industry if it is to adopt eggshell and bone as a new building material.

“Constructing buildings out of entirely new materials would mean completely rethinking the whole industry. But if you want to do something really transformative to bring down carbon emissions, then I think that’s what we have to do,” said Oyen.

Eggshell and bone building materials are easily scalable and are produced using less energy than traditional materials. In addition, the properties of the materials make for durable and resilient building matter with the potential to self-heal when combined with natural bone cells.