University of Technology Sydney

85001 The Bio Kitchen

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks


In order to combat climate change there is an urgent need to transition from unsustainable manufacturing and consumption practises, and to develop sustainable materials and systems that promote ecological resilience, repair, and that support the health of our planet. For designers, the transformative possibilities of bio-based materials can offer alternative approaches for thinking through the future of fashion, consumer products, systems of manufacturing, as well as architecture and the built environment.

The Bio Kitchen provides students with an understanding of bio-based material futures. This is a hands-on laboratory where students learn design principles and practices for undertaking materials research, using these to speculate on the possible social and scientific applications for bio-based materials and biotechnologies in the future. In this design lab the kitchen operates as both a vibrant system and as a practical studio space for futures-oriented material thinking. Students will undertake experiments with starches, bioplastics, agar, gels, protein and cellulose manipulations, with the opportunity to view and interact with material recipe demonstrations, before recreating, improvising and expanding on these experimental recipes themselves.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of bio-based materials and the future possibilities of biotechnologies.
2. Apply principles and methods of bio-based materials research.
3. Develop research-led material speculations and connect these to future design scenarios.
4. Understand the importance of living systems as they relate to material ecologies.
5. Connect material thinking to design generation and development.
6. Communicate visually and verbally using design, scientific data and systems thinking.

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This 2nd year Design Studies subject teaches students ways to engage with the future through the development of materials-led design strategies. It contributes to the development of graduate attributes in the areas of critical thinking and research, design communication and interpersonal skills, as well as civic attitudes and values. This subject contributes knowledge necessary for understanding the importance and significance of bio-based materials, and is relevant for the completion of the Bachelor of Design degree within three design discipline areas.

This subject is interdisciplinary and contributes to the five CAPRI Faculty Graduate Attribute categories

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

The Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILO's) are therefore a composite of those from contributing courses and designated to criteria with the codes C-0, A-0, P-0, R-0 and I-0 in the lists under each Task in the subject.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is currently taught fully online and will use Canvas for communications outside of class times. Please make sure to check the Canvas site regularly check email via your UTS email account. Canvas will host subject infromation including weekly tasks and schedule, learning resources, reccomended readings, and detailed assessment task briefs. A Zoom link for the weekly studios will be provided ahead of Week 1.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to biotechnologies
  • Kitchen as an ecosystem (circular design/circular economy)
  • Bio-based materials and Design
  • Material intelligence and material kin
  • Future materials and technologies
  • Materials-led Design Futuring
  • Critical and speculative design
  • Systems thinking through materials


Assessment task 1: Biomaterial testing journal


This assessment introduces students to bio-based materials. It applies materials-led systems thinking and observation, material recipes and iterative design development to produce a portfolio of work. Please see detailed assessment task brief in Canvas.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 5 and 6

Type: Journal
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Awareness and understanding of bio-based materials research 20 1
Quality of journal presentation 30 6
Quality and creativity in material development 30 2
Depth of engagement with material testing 20 5
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Design Research Project: Presentation, Portfolio and Reflection


The assessment advances students explorations into bio-based materials through a self-directed research project. Students will apply materials-led research, iterative design development and critical and speculative design methods to produce and present a portfolio of work. Please see detailed assessment brief in Canvas.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Quality and creativity of situated design concept 25 3
Rigour of material and design development 25 5
Quality of video production and presentation 20 2
Clarity and professionalism of portfolio 20 6
Depth of engagement and insightfulness of reflections 10 4
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

The The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Students are required to be punctual and regular in attendance for all classes. A minimum of 80 percent attendance and participation is required to complete the subject and be eligible for assessment. Please familiarise yourself with the Faculty’s attendance policy outlined in the DAB Generic Subject Information Guide.

Students are expected to submit all assessments tasks over the semester. Marks will be deducted for lateness unless arrangements for special consideration or an extension is approved in advance of the due date. All tasks must be the student’s own individual work, and must not have been submitted for assessment in other subjects. Please familiarise yourself with the DAB Generic Subject Information Guide.

Recommended texts

Please refer to Canvas reading list