Using new technology developed by DuPont scientists you can now grow your own home in three weeks. The starter pack comes complete with a DNA blueprint for the house design, and is activated by modest amounts of electricity and plenty of water.
The fully grown ‘treehouse’ has solid walls, transparent windows, as well as plumbing and electrical wiring made from cellulose. Essentially organic in nature, the treehouse is self-maintaining, so don’t worry about that roof leak after a storm, it will fix itself in a few days!
Simple houses can even be grown in rural areas using solar power or fuel cells, and for a premium price, you can order a DNA-customised mansion to your own design. The developers include a randomising gene, which ensures that no two houses are exactly alike, even from the same design.
This technology could be a boon for the world’s homeless and software engineers are looking at ways of adapting this technology to small apartment blocks.
A word of caution though – choose your site carefully, as once your home has taken root, it’s difficult to move!
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
Genetic engineering of organic plastic, grown in forests and hothouses, combined with pseudo-intelligent components such as organic memory arrays and self-constructing nano materials provide the basis for a DNA architected self-assembling structure of sufficient size and durability to provide basic shelter for people. Once this becomes a reality, it is simply a matter of programming the blueprint to build itself to the required design. If the DNA can be manipulated to this degree, it becomes a software programming issue to create the ‘seed’. Advances in computing power, partly enabled by the organic memory and nano devices, provide this solution.
2000: Scientists decode the first plant genome>
Genetics reaches a major milestone as an international research team announces it has completed the first plant genome sequence.
2002: Department of Energy begins effort to sequence tree genome>
Scientists from the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and around the world launch a project to sequence the Populus genome.
2003: Scientists observe tread milling>
Scientists observe nanosize microtubules ‘treadmilling’ across plant cells. This is the first clue as to how plant cells grow into specific shapes at a molecular level.
2004: Scientists figure out how to control plant cell wall construction>
Plant cell walls are composites of minute cellulose fibres interlaced with many different chains of simple sugars, or polymers, that make the structure strong. While studying how cell walls change as plants develop, scientists discovered that an enzyme requires a simple milk sugar, called galactose, to re-lace polymers during growth.
2006: DuPont commercialises organic polymers>
DuPont commercially produces Bio-PDO™ corn-derived chemical/1,3, propanediol to replace petrochemicals in the production of polymers.
2008: ArborGen scientists successfully adapt tree DNA to create designer bonsai trees>
Miniature Giant Sequoia trees go on sale. Unlike traditional bonsai, these trees are not physically manipulated, but are the result of designer genes. The reaction from the Sierra Club is wooden.
2010: DNA experiments yield shaped structures>
Experiments with DNA manipulation and cell wall control allow scientists to produce poles (trunks) and beams (branches) which form the basis of a structure for future refining.
2012: First experiments with rapid growth structures>
Combining genes from rapidly growing organisms finally results in a ‘tree’ that grows to full size in a matter of weeks.
2014: Long life gene discovered>
By incorporating a gene from the giant sequoia which produces tannin in sufficient quantities to preserve the cellulose for over 1000 years, longevity is assured.
2016: Blueprints taken from CAD to DNA>
Computer scientists develop an interface for converting structure designs directly from CAD drawings to DNA codes. Biotech scientists welcome this as a breakthrough for future self-assembling structures.
2018: House seed patented>
Patents are registered for building houses from customised DNA ‘seeds’, which under laboratory conditions grow into fully fledged structures.
2019: Treehouses commercialised>
DuPont commercialises the ‘Treehouse’ from smart cellulose, which uses electrical stimulus and micro-nutrients to build a house with a pole-beam construction in a matter of weeks.