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Animal Printheads, Biomimicry and More: How Nature Will Shape the Built Environment of the Future

Biomimicry is quickly emerging as one of the next architectural frontiers. New manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, coupled with the drive to make buildings more environmentally sustainable, have led to a wave of projects that are derived from natural phenomena or even constructed with biological materials. A recent example of this trend is “Hy-Fi,” this summer’s MoMA PS1 design that is constructed of organic and compostable eco-bricks. Other projects such as MIT Media Lab’s Silk Pavilion have taken biological innovation a step further by actually using a biometric construction processes - around 6,500 silkworms wove the Silk Pavilion's membrane. “Animal Printheads,” as Geoff Manaugh calls them in his article "Architecture-By-Bee and Other Animal Printheads," have already proven to be a viable part of the manufacturing process in art, and perhaps in the future, the built environment as well. But what happens when humans engineer animals to 3D print other materials?

The Living’s Hy-Fi, winning design of the 2014 Young Architects Program. The Museum of Modern Art and MoMAPS1. Image © The Living MIT Media Lab's Silk Pavilion. Image © Steven Keating Silkworms weaving MIT Media Lab's Silk Pavilion. Image © Steven Keating © John Becker

Christoph Gielen's "Ciphers": Aerial Views of American Sprawl

From the Publisher. Christoph Gielen’s aerial views offer a look at America’s most aberrant and unusual sprawl forms in ways we usually don’t get to see them: from far above the ground—a vantage point that reveals both the intricate geometry as well as the idiosyncratic allure of these developments. Here, encountering sprawl becomes an aesthetic experience that at the same time leaves us with a sense of foreboding, of seeing the “writing on the wall”. At once fascinating and profoundly unsettling, these photographs detail the potential ramifications of unchecked urbanization. When these settlements were developed, neither distance from work place nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the locations of new constructions. These places are relics from an era that was entirely defined by a belief in unlimited growth, of bigger is better. The startling extent of those practices, and their inherent wastefulness, come to light in Gielen’s pictures—as if looking at a microcosm of non-sustainability through a giant magnifier.

Contributing essays by Johann Frederik Hartle, Galina Tachieva, Srdjan Jovanic Weiss, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris contextualize Gielen’s work by focusing on a range of aspects, from aesthetics to climate change and futurology. They also examine why taking a closer look at these places is particularly crucial at this juncture, when we are faced with a new wave of building booms in developing nations such as in China.

No More Play / Michael Maltzan

In this book Michael Maltzan holds conversations with a photographer, architects, a landscape architect, a futurists, and a urban planner about Los Angeles’s recent past and its near and distant future. For Maltzan, Los Angeles is currently in a delicate moment of transformation “where past vocabularies of the city and of urbanism are no longer adequate, and at this moment, the very word no longer applies.” In order to guide this transformation in a positive direction Maltzan asserts that “architects, urban theorists, architects, designers, planners, and city leaders requires keen investigation to produce forms that represent this city and and its culture, as opposed to importing other urban models.” The conversations along with the photographs by Iwan Baan presented in this book are part of the keen investigation Maltzan advocates for. This makes for a very engaging book for anyone interested in Los Angeles and shaping the future of cities in general.

Landscapes of Quarantine

Sounds weird, but I can´t really define it.  Maybe we should stick to his definition:  ”Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, Landscape Futures”.