Lab's Approach to Research

In service of its mission, LoDo Lab collaborates with a diverse array of fields, both allied and unrelated, to advocate for sustainability and resilience in architecture and construction. It particularly focuses on the adaptive reuse of waste-stream materials, the embrace of decay as an often-ignored material characteristic, and the consideration of disassembly in the fabrication and construction of the built environment.

LoDo Lab purposefully connects environmental sustainability with social and community equity, striving, in all its endeavors, to render the field of architecture more accessible, in terms of both who it serves and who it employs.

Biodegradable 3D Printing

LoDo Lab's Blind Nurse and Nurse Pod research dives into the ever-evolving additive manufacturing process of 3D printing, focusing on how we can use biodegradable materials in this process.

Above: In our first phase of material experimentation, we worked with biocomposite materials made for traditional FDM printing (Fused Deposition Modeling - Material Extrusion via hot end). These materials are a mix of PLA (Polylactic Acid - A thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane) and other biodegradable materials such as crushed stone, algae, coffee byproduct, or hemp. Some of the filaments or FDM materials experimented with, in the lab have been: Stonfil - Alga - WoundUp - Entwined - EasyWood

Above: In our second phase and current material exploration, we are building a custom ram extruder printer. Custom fitting a Stoneflower clay extruding kit to a Prusa MKS3, our ram extruder printer will be capable of printing out of clay and clay mixed with other biodegradable additives at a variety of thicknesses.

Drawing Representation

In addition to exploring our research through digital and physical 3D methods, the LoDo Lab also works hard to push the limits of our 2D drawings & representations, of our 3D explorations.

Above: These studies explore how material logics imposed on abstract form through 3D printing can serve as criteria for simulating decay. We’re interested in whether the “limitations” of the additive process of 3D printing may in fact provide opportunities to fine-tune the decay of the Nurse as we move the design forward. 

Above: This video documents how research assistant Jacob T. removes the backface of the paper from the wood board, leaving the image behind. This process uses acrylic gel to pick up toner from a laser printout and bind the toner to a new surface in this case, wood. This process gives us the opportunity to work additively (layering up multiple gel transfers) or subtractively (carving into the boards) as we continue to use drawing as a way of understanding decay.

Greenhouse Research

LoDo Lab uses a shared greenhouse space across the street from CAP at the CU Denver Science building. This greenhouse is shared between the tri-campus of CU Denver, Metro State University, and the Community College of Colorado. We are in full support of helping facilitate and bring other's research and projects to the greenhouse space! If you are interested in using the teaching greenhouse, please contact Marc Swackhamer.

Future Research

In the future, LoDo Lab aims to print with wood pulp-based materials and to continue 2D representation and research.