Architect Anna Ulak, inspired by the popular James Bond films, shared with us her ‘Storming Medusa’ proposal, the new villain’s lair in our ecologically and politically precarious present. Ulak notes how James Bond movies can be considered phantasmagorias which have allowed audiences to imagine the future of architecture. But now that the Cold war is over, how can the James Bond genre be utilized again to imagine a new kind of architecture? Anchored off the coast of Cape Farewell in Greenland, the project draws on the physiological characteristics of jellyfish in order to suggest a new relationship between the built and natural environment. More images and architects’ description after the break.
James Bond movies have been a veritable catalogue of Cold war modernism. Each movie has a villain whose lair frequently uses the language of modern architecture. The project posits formlessness over form, field conditions instead of clear spatial boundaries, and the opportunity for movement rather than stasis. This architecture occurs at the moment of contact between water and epidermis. The ingenuity of the Medusa, according to its designers, is that it does not have a determined form but rather actively constructs its own environment by staging weather events and harvesting the energy needed for its own survival.
The Medusa is constructed on the premise of homeostasis based on natural models: that is, it is proposed as a closed system which, despite changing external conditions, is able to sustain a stable inner economy of energy production and consumption. Yet this optimistic view of the Medusa turns out to be hopelessly naïve. The Medusa breaks down, is dragged to the shores of Africa, and is co-opted as a market. The gargantuan Medusa ultimately owes its survival to its ability to re-adapt to these new cultural conditions. Resilience prevails over homeostasis.
The Medusa Project also works in conjunction with the existing HAARP, the High Aurora Atmospheric Research Project, a large-scale weather experiment station located in Fairbanks, Alaska and directed by the U.S. military and various American universities to study the atmosphere and the ionosphere. Reliable sources claim that HAARP can successfully change the weather. The Medusa Project will use their own ionospheres station to modify the weather to stem climate change, but unlike HAARP, the Medusa will conduct its experiments in a transparent fashion with the knowledge of the public. The locations of HAARP and “The Medusa” are ideal to study the ionosphere because both are located on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
By creating holes in the ionosphere, the pattern of the solar wind and magnetosphere are effected, which, in turn, changes the typical patterns in various cloud formations and even sea current formation. This can alter the atmosphere greatly as well as the ocean currents. If the blasting is engineered enough, temperatures can be altered in addition to wave, cloud and wind formation. For instance, it is possible to utilize the system to achieve winters in the Greater Toronto Area without any snow or cold weather. But the blasting must be done carefully because if done too strong the sun’s ultraviolet rays can potentially destroy any living being underneath the blast.
Not only does the Medusa construct its own environment by staging weather events but it also harvests the energy needed for its own survival. The pneumatic skin is made up of piezo-electric membranes which collect energy through movement. Also made of piezo electric membrane are the tentacles and buoys that accumulate energy from the ocean currents. According to its inventors, the ingenuity of the Medusa is the way in which the harvested and the used energy are always in a state of homeostasis, just like a living organism.
The smallest scale of weather modification is the Medusa’s skin itself. The skin is made of small cells that can open and close themselves. The living, breathing skin moderates various climatic conditions on a human scale.
Author: Anna Ulak
Special Thanks: Rodolphe El-Khoury and Zeynep-Celik