“Soil Sisters: An Intersectoral Material Design Framework for Soil Health” is a bottom-up project, rooted in the health and resilience of the soil ecosystem as the basis for creating new bio-materials on a large scale to support a just built-environment. The goal of the project is to capture the potential of the 5.5 billion tons of agricultural by-products left in fields each year to create biomaterial inputs for circular economy supply chains—from textiles to packaging, furniture to building materials.
“Soil Sisters” is a direct reference to traditional agroecological systems known as the ‘three sisters,’ which were developed by Indigenous Nations of the Americas. These multi-cropping practices have been studied widely for their ability to effectively fix nutrients and maintain nutrient balances in soil—and now offer strategies for crop resilience under climate change and a source for textile materials. Faculty at the Yale School of Architecture Anna Dyson and Mae-ling Lokko define “Soil Sisters” as the materials designed to support biocompatible soil practices that in turn enrich the soil biome.
Dyson and Lokko have developed this project in collaboration with circular textile companies Global Mamas in Ghana (partner since 2011) and Ecolibri in Guatemala (partner since 2004). Ecolibri practices sister cropping in Guatemala and Global Mamas apply proka soil conservation practices in Ghana. Dyson and Lokko are recipients of the SOM Foundation’s 2021 Research Prize, which is awarded to faculty-led interdisciplinary teams who are cultivating new ideas and meaningful research that address the critical issues of our time.
Through the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, Dyson, Lokko, and their partners are offering public workshops, lectures, and discussions during the spring 2023 semester.
MArch, Hines Professor of Architecture at the Yale School of Architecture, Yale School of the Environment, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture
PhD, Assistant Professor, Yale School of Architecture, Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture