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Thora has experience in Architectural Design and Microbiology and is a practising design researcher specialising in living materials and biohybrid fabrication.      

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Thora H Arnardottir is a postdoctoral researcher and an interdisciplinary designer with a background in architecture. She has a passion for pursuing analogy with nature through her work, not merely taking inspiration from our ecology but, speculating concerning our changing relationship with it through engineered biological systems and new material processes. ​Her PhD titled 'Bacterial Sculptingat Newcastle University in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape addressed design methods for working with biomineralization (MICP), combining biotic agency with design concepts and innovative crafting techniques. Her research originated from a curiosity to design better with nature and an interest in understanding how living processes could be incorporated into the way we build and live. This led to working with various bacteria, including bioluminescent, cellulose-producing, and biomineralising bacteria, as well as microalgae, to design with their biological processes. This approach emphasises aligning with the inherent behaviours of these organisms in biofabrication efforts. Moving away from the strict control that characterises much of contemporary design, her work critiques traditional architectural methods that often disregard the intrinsic 'living' properties of materials. Instead, she seeks to understand and follow the natural behaviours of microbes, allowing natural processes to guide design rather than forcing them into predefined plans. This perspective views living materials not as static elements but as active participants in the design process, fostering a more adaptive and responsive practice.

Thora holds a master's degree in Advanced Architecture from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) in Spain and a bachelor’s degree from the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), UK. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins on the MA Biodesign program and a Senior Research Associate at Northumbria University in the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment working on projects centred on the Living Construction theme. She is a co-lead on a 3-year EPSRC-funded project "Living Manufacture" where she leads on the integration and development of an engineered living fabrication system "ELF". Previously, she worked at Newcastle University, on the previously funded Living Manufacture project, and the EPSRC-funded Thinking Soils project, where she was a design-led researcher exploring the design potentials of living materials which respond to physical forces in their environment, as well as managed the HBBE Macro Bio-Design Lab.

She is also a founder and director of Unruly Matters Ltd and a co-founder of the Biobabes collective, an experimental design and research collective.

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