Metabolic materials in Architecture is a very interesting a new concept being developed by Rachel Armstrong. The technology is still in very early stages and is currently more to do with micro biology rather than architecture. It is predicted that it may be commercialized by 2014 and thats when we could actually see breathing buildings that repair themselves.
She talks about the repair of timber piles that support buildings in Venice and how a artificial limestone reef can be created using protocells. This TED talk made me think of the many cases where this could be used. Last month New Civil Engineer (NCE) published a report on the sinking of the Tajmahal because of its failing timber piles.
This protocell technology is not something convenient for conservation but something essential.