Kate Van Horn’s Lichen Inspiration

Kate Van Horn, also from Cal Poly Pomona, is designing a Mars Colony inspired by the growth patterns of Lichen. By looking at different methods of their growth, reproduction, and aggregation as they occur in nature, she has developed a structural system that mimics Lichen on a more profound and fundamental level.  Lichen can be described as composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic association of a fungus with a photosynthetic partner, usually either a green algae or a cyanobacterium.

A supplementary point of inspiration for Van Horn was a particular breed of fungus called Polypores. Simply put, they resemble mushrooms without stalks and are commonly found on the sides of trees in dense forests. Their growth is characterized by the extension of germ tubes from an initial spore that, through exponential growth, establish a network of filaments. The diagram below illustrates the system more clearly:

It is from this structural system that Van Horn developed the fractal branch-like looking canopy to ground her solution to a mars colony.

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