draft.01: biophilia:technophilia

Biophilia : Technophilia

Projects noted as visionary within the architectural realm are all explicitly linked to the machine and the technologies that embody it, whether they are conceptual, mechanized constructions, virtual ones, or the cabbalistic. The use of technology in architecture fully embodies the architypes of the time and visionary architects’ pursuing projects of representation often shed light into a glimpse of what still remain ephemeral, forms of biological descent and technology not yet imagined. These seemingly science fiction visionary projects often influence technological trajectories and inspire professionals within the scientific community to work towards making them a reality. In this subliminal quest of biophilic innuendos, we have created a mechanized representation of biologically inspired forms in our attempt to create living machines; organisms in which we live. These are performative spaces which learn from their environments and adapt to become a sustainable part of the biosphere, and create a symbiotic relationships.

The direction of architectural design towards biologically inspired forms reveals our subconscious trends towards biophilic tendencies, and may prelude to a habitat more conducive to human life. In his 1984 book Biophilic Hypothesis, Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson elaborates on the hypothesis of the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life. We are currently at a time where our technology is increasingly becoming more biological while simultaneously learning how to reverse engineer biology with machine infused components, as can be seen by the experimentation into autonomous self-replicating building modules by Gordon Pask in the early 90s. The visionary projects chronologically ordered in Neil Spiller’s text, Visionary Architecture: Blueprints of the Modern Imagination, represent an evolution of experimentation into mechanized and biological processes aimed at the creation of a “living machine”, a term first coined by Buckminster Fuller. Through the representation of this timeline one can see the movements within visionary architecture aimed at the implementation of current technology to achieve “biological” form and/or function. I would argue that this reoccurring movement seen throughout architectural history reveals an architecture which may be more true to a human habitat conducive to life, more so than the traditional forms within the built environment we now call architecture. Architecture has made tremendous progress in the quest for innovative works that advance the human environment to date, but it has been blinded by the lens of the technology evolved from the industrial revolution. However, truly world changing architecture has not occurred again since modernism in the 18th century with the introduction of mass production in construction and current political changing environmental. The revolution created by the computer has given us insight into the creation of artificial life, biological systems, neural networks, and explanations into the biological world which remained unbeknown to man-kind until now. With the introduction of new technologies architecture needs to become a design-science oriented field, as opposed to a artistic endeavor, critically rethinking what the built environment is and should be. Aesthetics and artistic creation will be a byproduct of systems at work within the architecture, and if the biophilic hypothesis remains true we will incur a deeper relationship with the built environment.

With technology catching up to both biological and technological aspirations, two seemingly polar opposites, this movement will likely increase in momentum arriving at a synthesis of the two within the foreseeable future. This process represents shift or evolution on the precipice of occurrence within human society, where our mechanized achievements of the past three centuries are being superseded by Moore’s Law, where now biological approaches are replacing past technologies. Architects must be willing to respond to these changing conditions and learn how they can adopt these revolutionary ways of biological manipulation. Architects in both professional practice and academia are already adopting terms and processes from both the biological and scientific realms and have been doing so for some time now. Combined with new modeling capabilities and mathematical models designers and scientists are closer than ever to bridging the gap in reality between biology and technology. In doing so we must cautiously move forward, critically challenging the systems before leaping forward and changing the face of the Earth as seen in the modernist era.

However, within this quest for biologically influenced design, also known as biomimetics, there must be clear distinctions made between projects that understand and incorporate biological systems and then recreate based on the relevant information for the project, not merely copying biological form, which can be likened to kitsch or post modernism. If we allow projects into the built environment that are merely representing nature then we will be in the condition we now find ourselves, with an architecture very alien to the natural world. This is not a call reverting back to hunter-gatherer communities as some may no doubt imagine. However one must not forget that as can be seen through the evolution of architecture, the construction is strongly tied to the technology of the time, and so to will it be true in the future. The pinnacle of our architectural achievements will be through the synthesis of biology and technology; however the two will become indistinguishable, neither being able to be pulled apart from its counterpart. Together the infusion of these machines will allow man-kind to create and live in symbiotically conducive environments that are both a part of biology and influencing the way in which it behaves towards the benefit of both the natural order of the biosphere and that of human environmental quality.

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Categories: Academia, Biomimetics, Theory

Author:jonbailey

studying: architecture design

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