“We don’t live in nature any more – we put boxes around it. But now we can actually engineer nature to sustain our needs. All we have to do is design the code and it will self-create. Our visions today – if we can encapsulate them in a seed – [will] grow to actually fulfill that vision.” - Andrew Hessel in a recent ArchDaily interview
“Engineering nature to sustain our needs” is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do. Synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory, plant scientist Kyle Taylor and project leader Antony Evans are working together to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting” – and perhaps even create glow-in-the-dark trees that would supplant (pun intended) the common street light.
How is this possible? Read on to find out.
BIQ – the world’s first algae powered building – is set to be completed in Germany later this month. Built for the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg, this zero-carbon apartment complex will sport a bright green facade-cum-algae farm, while its interior proposes a radical new theory on how we will live in the near future.
More about BIQ after the break…
Architecture is bigger than itself.
The future will pose tremendous challenges to how architecture and cities are conceived, requiring comprehensive and scalable solutions, often found outside of what we traditionally call “architecture”. So after hundreds of interviews with architects that we’ve conducted, we realized that in order to confront these challenges we needed to expand our focus. For the first time, we invited to our office an “architect” of life, Andrew Hessel, co-chair of the Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Program at Singularity University and leader in the field of synthetic biology (the design of life through the use of information technology).
Andrew’s work focuses on designing viruses with the potential to cure cancer; however, he is fascinated by the ways in which genetic engineering could actually help human beings shape their environment, and how biotechnology will allow us to merge the natural and built worlds:
“We don’t live in nature any more – we put boxes around it. But now we can actually engineer nature to sustain our needs. All we have to do is design the code and it will self-create. Our visions today – if we can encapsulate them in a seed – [will] grow to actually fulfill that vision. [...] One day, who knows, maybe we’ll plant a seed and grow a sky scraper, that has all the nutrients it needs to stay warm, to literally react to our environment, maybe even keep an eye on us, protect us, nurture us. It’s just all in the design.”
What if we really could “plant” and “grow” a house? What if we could use modified trees as street lamps? Clearly, this disrupts the way we traditionally conceive of architecture, but it also opens many doors for a more sustainable future.
Andrew has recently joined Autodesk as a researcher for “creating platforms for imagining, designing, and creating molecular and living systems”. Autodesk is entering the nanoscale engineering business and exploring into software for printing tissue and 4D materials. So, if the company that produces the most used tools for the architecture industry is now exploring and making these new worlds accessible, why shouldn’t architecture embrace it?
Stop right there. Before I begin this post with a cliché dictionary definition, I direct you to what’s usually overlooked in these openings: the part of speech.
Without reading the definition, we know. Design is the act that connects the human being to the object outside him: the way in which intentions, thoughts, concepts take form.
On a basic level, design connects human beings through the shared experience of said object – be it functional or purely aesthetic. But it’s not just the object which connects us – it’s the idea that inspired it. On another level, and perhaps at its purest, design connects by inaugurating us into a collaborative spirit of innovation.
The AIA’s latest Design Conference, Design Connects, has invited bloggers to reflect how design connects us in a way that will build a better future. We at ArchDaily, biased as we may be, think we have the answer (it’s in the invitation): the Bloggers.
To read how design and the Internet connect us to thousands of elementary school kids, the sci-fi dsytopias of a NASA scientist, and a poverty-defying advocate looking to change the world - all in 24 hours – keep reading after the break.