Protocell Architecture: Architectural Design
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Why would we want to do this? Partly because we are looking for different impacts of the built environment on nature, so the best way to do that is to become as natural systems and participate in the flows of materials and resources shared by living things. The other is more philosophical. Not necessarily by being alive or living itself but creating the possibility of flourishing and happiness — augmenting positive encounters.
What metabolic materials have you found that architects and designers of the future could use? How would you imagine redesigning something like the house? You mentioned having circulatory systems of water and air. How do you envision the 21st-century house as opposed to the Jetsons model where everything is mechanical and floating? What I mean is like gels that are computers and compute through space and time with chemistry. What they can do is literally process molecular transformations so they can generate heat.
The gel is a like a kind of compost that produces a lot of heat and maybe makes some other chemical transformation and can actually heat your ceramics container to boil your food or your water. I also think we are maybe looking at enzyme-based cooking, so that no longer do we need fossil fuel-based heat in order to generate the power for hot plates. We could use enzymes a bit like the way the fly pre-digests its food. There would be a cuisine of predigestion, and I think it could be quite an exquisite and tasty form of cooking.
What would be the shape of the house? Would you see the water flowing around? I see it as being like an alternative organ system: the house would sound like a stomach rather than motorway traffic or the inside of a combustion engine.
Creating 'Living' Buildings
You might hear your house gurgle rather than the boiler go on and the pipes rattling in the background. I think you would have two parallel circulations. The other one would be light-penetrating — they could be glass or they could be a bio-degradable plastic — but clear containers that would allow light through. How is the role of the architect changing in the 21st-century versus the 20th-century?
The 21st-century architect is not going to be the kind of iconic genius designer who makes the perfect form. These are not one-person, egotistic enterprises. These are communities of creatives. Protocell Architecture is an edition of AD that shows for the first time that contemporary architects can create and construct architectures that are bottom up, synthetically biological, green and have no recourse to shallow bio-mimicry.
In the next few decades, synthetic biology is set to have as much, if not more, impact on architecture as cyberspace and the digital.
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