Date of Submission

Spring 5-9-2023

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Jeffrey Collins


Mutualism is a term more commonly used in Ecology and can be defined as the relationship between organisms of differing species in which each benefit. In Architectural terms, Mutualism can be defined as the relationship between differing owners, buildings, typologies, or programs in which each benefit. A relationship already exists in many forms, but not always in a mutually beneficial way. I propose that architecture be designed and built in such a way that physical architecture relates to its surrounding infrastructure in such a way that creates a system or an ecosystem that is mutually beneficial.

In nature there are many symbiotic relationships between different species. Some with plants and fungi called mycorrhizae which grow along root fibers that provide the structure for the fungi to flourish. This in turn increases the surface area of the root, allowing for an additional amount of water and nutrient uptake to the plant.

Other examples of mutualism in nature are with plants to animals that either disperse seeds or pollinate flowers. These pollinators depend on the plant as a food source and in turn the plant flourishes in that environment. On the ocean floor there is yet another example of coral and zooxanthellae, a type of algae, that inhabit the coral but continue to be an independent organism. The algae, through the process of photosynthesis, provide coral with the building blocks to make proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. In return coral provides a protected environment for the algae to thrive.

What if these types of relationships existed in architectural form, what would it look like?

The exchange of resources; shelter, food, nutrients. The exchange of services; protection, transportation, healthcare. The exchange of energy; capture, storage, infrastructure. The exchange of waste as resources.

This topic is important because it explores the relationship between two or more buildings in proximity, and how these buildings can mutually benefit from each other. It is predicted by 2050 that 68% of the world population will be living in urban settings, which equates to higher density in downtown areas. With density comes a higher need for local resources and an increase load on infrastructure.

This thesis also explores the mutualistic relationship between two programs, that of a Data Center and a Vertical Hydroponic Farm, with a goal of capturing heat from the data Center before it is released into the environment and cycle it into the growing environment.

I propose to

One: Explore the relationship of building typology and program and how they can be beneficial

Two: Develop an integrated system that incorporates the premise of being beneficial to adjacent buildings.

I’ve chosen precedents to study in detail for their relationship of the components, façade integration, kinetic ability, and material choice. These precedents were designed to be performative in different ways. They are not necessarily beneficial outside of the internal program, but have the potential of providing resources in different ways.