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Repair is a process which requires an understanding of mechanisms and materials. It can be understood as the meta-operation in connection to the usage of tools. Essential here is the perception of what might have failed and how to control the prospective performance of the malfunctioning object. At the TU Delft laboratory of Civil Engineering, I have learnt about a phenomenon called damage management, which refers to the manner in which things are broken and pre-planning the efficiency of their fixing procedures. This notion stands at the core of the research and development of self-healing concrete undertaken by Dr Henk Jonkers and Reneé Mors. The material is designed for application in places of active leaks; meaning contexts of construction where high levels of water pressure cause cracking of the solid surfaces. By adding bacterial agents as well as their nutrients to the concrete formula, Jonkers and Mors allow the material to undergo a healing process with the support of the same running water that initially induced the damage since water-flow activates the bacteria.
This research-based work speculates on this material identifying it as a kind of (bio-) artificial intelligence. This seems to be the case because the self-repair occurs due to a stone-like environment that has been cultivated in the concrete. The underlying question is how current technology unfolds in relation to addressing matters of (human-) nature and agency. The self-healing concrete ejects and cancels out the role of the human once it has been created, altering the modus operandi of building technologies in the process. Dobra Robota alludes to my initial intervention which consisted of making cracks in the presented object this while it was the material itself that acted on itself to do all the repair work.
I want to thank Dr Henk Jonkers and Reneé Mors for making realisation of this project possible.