Autopoietic Architecture

This is an experimental research project to integrate computational generative architecture and theory hybridized between adaptive autopoiesis, technology, and cognition in a framework of environmental, remedial actions. It considers buildings as metabolic agents — living. The framework for this dialectic practice and design praxis samples real-world phenomenal nature, living systems, technology, AI, and botany for data appropriate to metabolic buildings.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Architecture of Extended Cognition: Andy Clark Applied to Metabolic Buildings

The sum of Andy Clark’s theory of extended cognition — argued in research papers and books such as Natural-Born Cyborgs, Supersizing the Mind, and Surfing Uncertainty— now impacts the theory and practice of advanced generative design in emergent realms of biointelligent, bioremedial architectures. This is especially true for biodigital and genetic-architectures where design-by-research sources technology and biology for computational simulations and AI. For my own writing, designing, and teaching Clark has provided a philosophical and theoretical logic I redeploy to connect cross-specie biointelligence, bioAI, and synthetic biology for justifying metabolically autonomous buildings. Consequently, Clark’s philosophy underpins the theoretical integration of metabolic architectures designed to biologically remove carbon from the atmosphere. Biointelligent structures and biochemical materials thus theoretically testify to Clark’s vision that nature/environment/cognition are inseparable from the designer’s processing of data from urban and wild organisms and phenomenal matter for ecological performative architectural duties. 

Metabolic Tower. Barcelona. 
Algorithmic plant-grown structure, microbe panels. Dennis Dollens

As I explain in the last chapter of Metabolic Architectures(devoted to Clark’s extended cognition), architects can derive analogies appropriate to the interchange of design/nature/technology — pathways for understanding and integrating a designer’s visualization-in-action with theories of how environments (including cities, objects, infrastructures) hold, exchange, and generate data/information. This is literally a wakeup call for thinking about future buildings in which cognition, technology, biology, and nature will simulate or nurture intelligence by integrating cellular performance from hybridized microbes, plants, and AI. Such a prediction is only possible if microbe, plant, animal, and AI are recognized as capable of shared interchange regardless of their typologically different orders of cognitive abilities. Hereby, designers and students (See post below) may relate ideas as cognitively generative for conceptualizing, drawing, modeling, simulating, prototyping, and fabricating new species of bioremedial, intelligent buildings — architectural enactments of, and participants in, Clark’s vision of extended cognition, of nature itself.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Studio: Digital Morphology for Metabolic Architectures

For this design-by-research studio, the Institute for Biodigital Architecture and Genetics is supporting investigation, theory, and design methods for integrating sciences and technology into advanced architecture. Institute researchers, under the direction of Alberto T. Estévez,are asking: What role biology, genetics, and computation plays in developing forms and functions from nature for intelligent buildings? What role will AI and instrumented-assisted visualization take in future design studios? And, How do we begin to express genetic and metabolic potential in studio projects?

Monday, March 12, 2018

AnneMarie Maes. Bees. Rights of Nature • Post #5

Figure 1. AnneMarie Maes exhibition Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

AnneMarie Maes in Beehave: Where are the Bees?
Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona
16-Feburary to 20 May 2018
Post #5

Circulating through the Fundació Miró, I’m reminded that the 1972 museum building was designed by Josep Luís Sert and, that the exhibition I’m seeking, was curated by Martina Millà. There, in collaboration with the building’s space and curatorial brief, AnneMarie Maes investigates the too-little-appreciated cognitive performance between bees, nature, and humans. Doing so, her installation delivers glimpses of bee intelligence. In this artist-, architect-, curator-, mediated space, a species’ cognition — nearly foreign to humans — unfolds a little bit. Using images she made with a scanning electron microscope (SEM), Maes surrounds her sculptures to investigate bee morphology, social order, navigation, and architecture rich with implications for cities, urban gardens, and social systems.
Entering the gallery, one is faced with the large SEM prints depicting secrets of bee physiology (Fig. 1). The photomurals are accompanied with two groups of sculptures and a video of bees in their hive. My experience was to bob back-and-forth — oscillate — between sculptures, images, and video. That oscillation, seemed  appropriate to my outwardly erratic search-register-learn behavior akin — if only metaphorically — to the bees’ own oscillations around flowers and their intelligent scouting, discovery, and dancing. Their scouting, discovery, and dancing I contrast to our own social scampering, pillaging, and polluting.
The works make evident, a schism between bee intelligence and human’s differently evolved intelligence, bridged by Maes’s work. That practice is conveyed in a visual narrative of alternative-worlds of bee reality different from our own constructed realities made visible through computation, technological imaging, and biological research. In this sense, the exhibition is part of perceptual visual language interpreting bee works in a dialogue processed in artworks. The show is then a pathway for negotiating art and communication vis-à-vis nature and urban policies to encourage bee cohabitation and protection in cities.

Figure 2. AnneMarie Maes. HoneyBattery.

In response to Maes’s research, I reintroduce the idea of species justice related through legal and legislative precedents documented by Christopher D. Stone. In his 1972 paper, “Should Trees Have Standing? — Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects,”1 Stone argued cases in the United States for recognizing that trees, rivers, animals, and mountains have inalienable rights. Those rights include, not only preservation and protection, but legal recourse and settlements whereby environments and organisms are owed compensation for damage caused by pollution or industry.

Figure 3. AnneMarie Maes. Robot dipped in beeswax.

Seeing Maes’s work, I think it is again time to support justice for nature against individuals and corporations causing catastrophic global damage. In Europe, Bee genocide facilitated with neoniconoids manufactured by international corporations, seems to have arrived at scientific and political consensus needed to halt the toxins’ released into the environment. This is then a text to celebrate Maes, as well as to support further bans outside of the European Union2. Catalyzed around an exhibition such as Beehave, a spearhead should again push for worldwide species justice. In parallel, learning from Switzerland’s 2000 constitutional clause, and Ecuador’s 2008 constitution with its Rights of Nature3 amendment, could be powerful rallying points for state- and city-level political change — where one of the necessary steps, would include legalizing beehives in cities.
            Under the umbrella of Stone’s essay, the visual narrative at the Miró Foundation can nurture conservation roots found in the artist’s thinking, texts, and scientific collaborations. Maes’s books: The Transparent Beehive Notebook and Alchimia Nova (see Post XXX), along with her website registry of experiments, makes these resources nearly as mobile as airborne pollen, and thus candidates for viral distribution; smartphone-friendly, documents-for-action and research. Those documents, and others, buttress conversations circulating in ecology realms focused on climate change, neighborhood design, urban policy, and metabolic buildings. Consequently, Maes’s work initiates and tests ways to strengthen bee/human partnerships in cities; another investigates bioreactive materials such as biofilms (see Post #3) and devices for listening, seeing, monitoring, and learning bee-being — bee ontology.

Figure 4. AnneMarie Maes. Top: Hive fragment. 
Bottom: Maes's construction of a hivelike segment.

At the Miró, Maes’s work can be established as idea generators. Consequently, the HoneyBattery (Fig. 2) and the beebot it powered — a hop-along robot dipped in beeswax (Fig. 3) — display levels of inventiveness signaling deep, if sometimes whimsical, thinking. More obviously architectural, a segment of a hive (top, Fig. 4) served as a template Maes followed to build “Lace,” her experiment to construct a hive segment (bottom, Fig. 4). This netlike work, exemplifies how, by isolating sections of hive manufacture, generative models can be brought to architectural thinking through observation of nature. The message I take away from the show underpins design-by-research as sourced in cellular life/intelligence, observation, and experimentation. The exhibition is a gateway to inspiration involving eco-responsive systems and, it simultaneously situates learning between nature and technology, as poetic and political and achievable.

1. Stone, Christopher D. 1972. “Should Trees Have Standing? — Towards Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” Southern California Law Review 45. 450-501.

2. Carrington, Damian. 2018. “Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis.” The Guardian. 28 February 2018.

3. Sumac Kawsay (Ecuador. Rights of Nature). Wikipedia.

Related posts this blog, scroll down:
Post #4 — 31 October 2017. Sustainable Skins
Post #3 — 3 October 2017. Biofilms & RoboBees
Post #2 — 1 October 2017. Republic of Urban Pollination
Post #1 — 27 September 2017. Biointelligent Beehives

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Prototype: Sustainable Skins in Urban Metabolic Architectures Post #4

Chitosan Matrix as part of the biomaterialization for intelligent beehives. 
See Posts Below: #1 — 27 September; #2 — 1 October; #3 — 7 October.

Post #4.

AnneMarie Maes and Núria Conde Pueyo

Thinking of building intelligent beehives with living substances, Maes and Conde initiated laboratory experiments involving the growth of bacterial and yeast skins (scoby skins), with “leather-like celluloses” properties, for prototype constructions. Matrix-like, these striated biofilms are projected to function as environmental sensors while providing the bees with antibiotic resistance to fight-off mites. From this process, resulting hives are envisioned as integrating, “skin cells as programmable material,” thus transporting their biological attributes to bioactive structures. By extension, similar bio-research processes are in line with designing materials and infrastructures, pertinent to metabolic architectures. As Maes demonstrates, her research process is already environmentally engaged, taking place as beehive-architecture investigated at urban levels and intended for distribution at urban scales. Potentially, such investigations dovetail with fablab procedures engrained in current design practices, so that the introduction of living cells in architectural subsystems materially incorporate, in Maes’s words: “living exoskeleton cells from Apis mellifera.” She suggests such cells, “be used as raw material for growing an artificial exoskeleton/skin on a 3D-printed scaffold of bacterial cellulose.”

Potential, 3D-printed scaffolds are depicted first in the formulation of printable compounds and their constituent raw ingredients as prototype matrices testing solutions of cellulose for bacterial growth membranes and then chitosan solutions for pre-3D printing. Details of these experiments with comments are the focus of and procedures from them are applicable to biomaterial development for metabolic architectures. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

New Edition. Digital-Botanic Architecture (DBA 2.3)

Back & Front Covers

Looking through a filter of aesthetics, geometry, and botany in order to visually extrapolate from their procedural rules, geometries, and genetic forms, this revised edition proposes architecture hybridized through algorithmic plant simulation, generative design, and botanic information. The text discusses and illustrates an induced evolution in one (of many potential) emerging methods for design realized through software-simu- lated, plant-to-architecture morphology. The resulting digital-botanic architecture is manifested in prototype ideas, structures, surfaces, materials, and systems. Works are documented with drawings, renderings, and STL models. In retrospect, D•BA2.3 functions as a prequel to Dollens’s new book, Metabolic Architectures: Turing, Sullivan, Autopoiesis & AI. (See post: 15 October, below).