Biophilia : Technophilia
Throughout the course of human evolution our lives have become intrinsically tied to the evolution of technology to the point where these two trajectories have become one of an interwoven existence as they continue to become interconnected through the progression of time. Infatuations with biology and technology spurred by the Industrial Revolution and propelled by “modernity” have created a society infatuated with biology and technology as they seep into nearly every facet of our lives. As our technology advances, our knowledge of biology increases, along with our ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular scales, each propelling the other into further innovation, discovery and implementation. Already today we see the infiltration of biological processes into nearly every facet of human existence, from swarm algorithms predicting efficient shipping routes to genetic algorithms in the process of form finding. As we have become increasingly comfortable with these technologies they have began to augment the human body. This interconnected existence between man and technology is said to bring about the next evolution in the human, the Posthuman era, where we are able to manipulate biology at the scale of matter, thus transforming the molecular structure of the human itself. In this time of posthumanity where biology and technology are fully enmeshed, what will become of the human habitat as biotechnologies begin to influence architecutre?
This thesis, Biophilia : Technophilia, refers to the deep connections humans share with the rest of biology and our ever-increasing infatuations with technology. As our knowledge increases due to biological discoveries they become increasingly interwoven with our technologies and our habitat. As human technology becomes increasingly biological and with architecture being dependently bound to the innovations in technology, our habitat too shall become more biological, both in materiality and design processes. In fact, this convergence within architecture can be traced back through the course of visionary architectural projects since the 1970s as the discourse began to theorize on bottom-up processes and networked assemblages, from Buckminster Fuller, Archigram and the Metabolists to Phillip Beasley, Marcos Cruz and Francois Roche.
Set within a Posthuman culture, this project envisions an architecture that is grown, designed and manipulated at the genomic sequence and molecular structure, infused with a meshwork of technological apparatus aimed at connecting human physiological systems to ecological environments – the architecture becomes a palpable interface through which mental and physiological processes are connected to ecological environments. Atmospheres are augmented, manipulated and controlled, where visual projections are overlaid on top of physical space and the spatial “void” is now designed.
Like biological cognitive processes and engineered synthetic organs, scaffolds are constructed allowing for genetically altered cell cultures to adhere and cultivate. As physical labor is further traded off for mental capacities to perform tasks, autonomous robots secreting a calcium-carbonate substrate print the scaffolding for which this genetically modified biological growth will adhere. Site is perceived as a datascape as flows of information, such as environmental stimuli and human flows and aggregations, are processed within the existing context of proposed growth. As information is no longer processed through silicon and metal chips but through vats of bacteria and water, agent-based simulations projected and simulated in real-time into the atmosphere react to these flows of information as they determine spatial organization and structural trajectories throughout the city. Following flows of information the robots flock around these paths, acquisitioning minerals from the lake to biomineralize the structure, coagulating the structural matrices as they seek to augment space.
Using synthetically designed in-vitro cell cultures injected into the scaffolding, a biological growth adheres to the scaffolding, as thick fibrous root-like networks begin to grow out of the printed structure as the organism searches for contact with disparate scaffolding systems, creating a matrix of web-like growth. Bacterial computers become an integral part of the mature growth, processing data within the context to both simulate the datascape and perform the necessary functions allowing the scaffolding to respond to environmental stimuli through electrical impulses sent through the fibrous microstructure of the scaffolding. Together, the fiber-optic-like rooting system, bacterial computers, and bionic mesh act as a network processing information as the architecture becomes a literal computational network. Just as in animal species, the skeletal system remains homogeneous throughout, while geodetic specific environmental stimuli and geographic isolation lead to a diverse heterogeneous epidermis. The architecture becomes a semi-living organism; adapting, emerging, evolving, mutating, and growing. Grafting, injecting, infusing, and fertilization become processes involved in the construction and regulation of the organism as pressures are placed adjusting and manipulating flows of matter through space-time.
Sensors on the body in conversation with a meshwork of sensors and plants grown within the epidermal layer begin to respond to human physiology through the two-way transaction of chemical and neural processes. Responsive to collective and individual physiological processes the growth of the epidermal layer begins to augment the trajectory of the scaffolding as it weaves through the city and augment atmospheric conditions. Architecture becomes an extension of human cognition as our mental processes are offloaded to manipulate the environment around us-a physical interface through which we interact with the world. Responses become articulated through ecological environment and human mental and physiological feedback loops.
This project becomes important for representing how we view our relationship between technology, our body, and surrounding ecology. Like our image of the body moving away from the body as a shell for the mind and into an interconnected relationship between mind and body, our architecture is becoming less a shell which encapsulates a body toward one that is part of an interconnected system between mind, body and ecology. In the Posthuman context biology, ecologies and atmospheres come into play as they become another interconnected system which becomes in conversation with the human nervous system. Architecture becomes responsive at the level of the micro and the macro, from the bacterial processes of e. coli to the atmospheric augmentation of weather patterns. Perhaps as a visionary architectural project it becomes a summation of the discipline and our cultures deepest fears; changing atmospheric conditions, lack of a building identifiable with current construction methods, autonomously constructed architecture and a re-envisioning of the human body.