When architects consider a building’s decay as carefully as its design and construction, they demonstrate that architecture is fundamentally part of our natural ecosystem, not distinct from it. The Nurse Pods project explores a scenario in which architecture can consciously participate in the natural cycles it often ignores. The end of a building’s life becomes an opportunity to support new growth.

BN Line Drawing BW

CONCEPT | Nurse Log + Blind Box = Blind Nurse

The original proposal for Blind Nurse fused two concepts. Blind boxes inspired an unpredictable form, while nurse logs demonstrated a temporal process that integrates decay and growth. Inside a paper-wrapped cube of soil, Blind Nurse contains a 3D-printed, synthetic nurse log filled with tree seeds. As the trees grow roots will take the place of the nurse log as it decays.

The blind box and nurse log concepts have guided the design in terms of both form and performance. As designers and consumers in an increasingly complicated and unsustainable world, we aim to relinquish a measure of control by giving natural processes and random chance a role in determining form. At the same time, our research focuses on a carefully tuned performance that can support tree growth by mitigating adverse climate conditions, providing nutrients, and protecting from pathogens.

By 3D printing nurse logs from wood made available when buildings are demolished, we divert material from landfills and return it to places where it can provide ecological value. As the wood decomposes, its nutrients are released, supporting the growth of new trees and completing a cycle of material stewardship.

DEVELOPMENT | Refining The Geometry

Working iteratively in Rhino and its visual scripting plugin, Grasshopper, we developed a suite of pod geometries while printing and testing prototypes. Multiple legs give the pods stability no matter which face the cubic containers are set down on. The legs double as water reservoirs, again providing capacity regardless of the pods’ orientation. Percolation holes allow water to enter a cavity linked to the reservoirs, and additional holes allow light and air to penetrate the seed and soil cavity. The two cavities interlock to provide the pods with a bone-like internal structure.

EXPERIMENT | Greenhouse Research

After finishing our series of Nine prints, we launched our greenhouse study on how these Nurse Pods may impact the growth of plants seeded within. Focusing on how the selected material or surface area impacts the pod’s overall ability to sequester water and maintain controlled temperatures to maximize the growth of the seeds. This was a short experiment run over the three-month course of summer 2021. The results and information we gather from this experiment will help inform how to improve the pod’s overall design and where we can improve for future iterations and experiments.

SPECULATION | 2D Representation

While developing the Blind Nurse pod, we continue to explore and speculate how the 3D work may evolve, change, or decay through the various styles of 2D representation.

In addition to the Blind Box iteration of the Nurse Pod or Blind Nurse, we have been speculating on other applications that the Nurse Pod may be used for, from riverfront erosion mitigation to snow fence replacement to air dispersal pods for wildfire reseeding. Where can you see the Nurse Pod concept being applied?

Can't Get Enough Blind Nurse?

Interested in more Blind Nurse content? Check out the next phase of this research, Nurse Pods

Check out our Instagram page at: @lodolab.cap for more ongoing development!

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

CU Denver Building

1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


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