Inspired by a trip to Salina Turda [salt mine] in October, this month I decided to recreate some of the salt crystallization processes found about its interior. Reducing the macro to the micro, petri dishes, assorted glass vessels, an assemblage of natural materials, and saline solutions of various concentrations produced some beautiful results. The above images document a handful of the experiments in progress.
Further updates to follow. But, in the meantime, take a look at Salina Turda for yourself, via this vimeo short film.
ADAPT-r, on show at Ambika 3 gallery, London until December 18th 2016, explores the research processes of artists, architects, and designers, including several biodesign researchers/practitioners.
The exhibition concludes an EU funded research initiative that provided insight into 35 international creatives, including Marco Poletto, Claudia Pasquero, Anna Pla-Catala, Eric Guibert, Dr. Tom Holbrook, Marti Franch Batllori, Karli Luik, and others.
A highlight of the exhibition is ecoLogicStudio's installation, which investigates the potentiality of fusing folding architecture and bacterial cellulose.
Read more at: http://www.p3exhibitions.com/
On Wednesday 30th November 2016 I had the pleasure of joining peers Claudia Pasquero [cofounder, ecoLogicStudio/Urban Morphogenesis Lab, UCL/IaaC], Marco Poletto [cofounder, ecoLogicStudio, and Carnegie Mellon University], Ricardo de Ostos [partner, Naja & de Ostos], Emmanouil Zaroukas [The Bartlett], and Dr. Simon Park [University of Surrey], for the third in the BioSalon series.
Hosted at Ambika P3 gallery at the University of Westminster, the roundtable explored the intersection of biology, computing, and urban design. Poletto and Zaroukas presented ecoLogicStudio's experimental research in biological computing, which explores how microorganisms including slime mould, bacteria, fungi, and abiotic materials including salt can be used within urban design and architecture. Dr. Simon Park presented a selection of his collaborations with bio artists including Anna Dumitriu, including Bioluminescence: Bacterial Light Lab, whilst giving insights into the behaviours and processes of microorganisms. Titled 'Biome Shock: Anthropogenic vs. Ecological Intelligence', my presentation utilised Alvin Toffler's Future Shock as a tool for comparing and contrasting the difference in the former and latter. de Ostos presented some of his studios recent projects, explaining how the practice is exploring ecological systems as a means to inform architectural design decision-making.
Infused with thoughts and commentary from audience members, the panel discussion centered on some of the philosophical and wider ideological issues to hand, including the impact of the inherent bias in human decision-making, and where intelligence in anthropogenic, biological, and ecological systems converge and diverge.
BioSalon III was part of an ongoing series of events that bring together scientists, designers, artists, architects, and theorists, to converse wide-ranging aspects of biodesign, from scientific, technical and artistic potentialities, to ethics, philosophy, policy, and research practicalities. Collaborators include researchers and practioners from several universities including University of the Arts London, University College London, University of Greenwich, and the Royal College of Art.
Come join us for the BioSalon roundtable exploring design methodologies operating at the intersection of biology, computation and urban ecologies, hosted by ADAPT-r Events / Ambika P3, at University of Westminster, 18:30 - 20:30, 30th November 2016. The speakers will be architects Ricardo De Ostos, Emmanouil Zaroukas and Marco Poletto, together with microbiologist Dr. Simon Park, and myself. Our discussion will be moderated by ADAPT-r fellow Claudia Pasquero, founder of ecoLogicStudio, and curator of the event.
Extract from BioSalon's event listing:
"The conversation will stem from an attempt to gather a non-anthropocentric perspective, debating the blurred distinction between nature and artifice, landscape and city and ultimately the biosphere and the contemporary urbansphere.
Through the work of the invited guests we will look at the world from the renewed perspective of macro-scale satellite monitoring, revealing planetary infrastructures, as well as the micro-scale of fundamental cellular organization.
How can this trans-scalar journey provide an analogue model of the future bio-city? Can this form of analogy enable a re-interpretation of the contemporary urbanity? The BioSalon will be structured as a conversation between architects, artists, microbiologist and theorists."
Find more information at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adaptr-events-bio-salon-claudia-pasquero-tickets-28361858081
In interview for Forbes magazine, thanks to Whitney Johnson, author of the critically acclaimed Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work.
Read at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/whitneyjohnson/2016/11/28/this-entrepreneur-is-learning-from-nature-how-to-design-a-city/#3f2bba1f6372
Nobel prize winning chemist Arne Tiselius, as cited by Alvin Toffler, on the [then] coming "great future of industry... from biology" in Future Shock, published in 1970.
Jan Kaplický Drawings, on show until December 16th 2016 at University of Greenwich's School of Architecture & Landscape, makes for an unmissable journey into the works of one of the most influential architects of the past century. Curated by the university's head of architecture & landscape, Nic Clear, and hosted in association with Circa Press and support from the Czech Embassy, the exhibition harnesses print and digital media at a variety of scales. Perusing the assemblage of imagery, it will likely come as no surprise to those unfamiliar with Kaplický's life and works to hear he was the son of a botanical illustrator and a sculptor. What architectural wonders evolve from the mind of a man born and bred of both the arts and the sciences!
Extract from University of Greenwich Galleries press release:
"This exhibition commemorates Jan Kaplický, who was one of the most gifted and visionary architects working at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. His death in 2009 at the age of 71 robbed the world of a designer whose virtuosity was only just coming to wider public attention, having been a benchmark in the world of architecture for nearly three decades.
His trademark ‘futuristic’ style was formed from the intersection of the bold elegance of Czech modernism, the sweeping lines of the Baroque and intricacy of the exploded technical diagram. His work moved beyond a simple categorisation as High Tech into a realm where technology was both a utopian image and absolute fact.
Kaplický always felt that drawings were the epitome of the ‘decisive creative act’ and the care and intricacy of his drawings show the workings of a man who was passionate in the pursuit of precision. Produced before the rise of computer aided drafting (CAD), the complexity of form and the delicacy of line are astonishing, and coupled with a wit and originality around programme and a genuine commitment to an ethical use of technology and materials Kaplický’s works represent a liberating and joyful approach to architecture."
Read more at: http://www.greenwichunigalleries.co.uk/jan-kaplicky-drawings/
On October 7th, together with Romanian architect Adina Molden, I descended into the depths of the Earth to see the subterranean spectacle Salina Turda. 13 million years in the making, the salt mine, which is located on the outskirts of the Transylvanian city of Turda, is one of the world's most extra-ordinary human/natural architectural hybrids.
Believed to date from the Dacian period, and first documented in 1271, its geological treasure, salt, filled the coffers of Hungarian royalty. In the thirteenth century salt was worth more than gold, and salt boulders were used to reward the loyalty of Teutonic knights.
"There is talk that this pit is so famous, that it is hardly matched in the entire Orient" Johann Fridwaldszky, Magni Principatus Transilvanie Mineralogy
In World War II, by which time mining operations had ceased, Salina Turda provided locals with shelter from bombing raids. Today, the mine is ranked one of the world's top twenty underground sites to visit. Its every view like a spread from Architectural Digest, or a James Bond film, the subterranean wonder brings the best in human imagination and engineering together. But, what infuses Salina Turda with magic, as well as salt, is baring witness to the sheer beauty of its ancient, yet ever evolving geological formations.
Inspirational in spades, Salina Turda is a profoundly special place, which I much hope to visit once more in the not distant future. If ever you have the opportunity, I much recommend you take a trip to Romania to visit the mine for yourself!
See footage of Salina Turda at the link below:
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of joining Charles Phu (Office for Architectural Culture), David Cash (Chairman, BDP), Prof. Irena Bauman (Bauman Lyons Architects), and architect Serban Sturdza to judge the Architecture Conference & Expo Awards. Entries showcased Romania’s best architectural practice across four categories: Community Projects; Restoration, Conservation, and Urban Renewal; Overseas Projects; and Young Architects.
Somes Delivery (below) by Mihai Mateiu with Vlad Awls, Bogdan Vrabie Adriana Magerusan, Alexandra Bacanu, Marius Catalin Moga, Dan Burzo, Ana Felvinczi and Cristina Bodnarescu, won the Community Projects Award. Somes Delivery turned an unloved river-side into a vibrant communal space able to facilitate wide-ranging activities - connecting people with one another, and with the natural world.
The award for Restoration, Conversion and Urban Renewal was won by Animal Farm (below), and built by architect Vlad Barladeanu with Octavia Pope, Justin Smith, Ilinca Moroianu, Andreea Navarca, Andrew Nicholas, and Alexander Mantoiu. Animal Farm elegantly restored an historic barn, and in the process breathed new life in to a small rural community.
Nomadic Shelter (below) by Simon Bengtsson, Garigga Josep Tarres, Benny Kwok, Mihara Mardare and Piotr Paczkowski won Best Overseas Architect Project Award. A stunning, ecologically considered design, the structure is described as an intervention “to create a very simple prototype shelter for fire, sleep and meetings”. Easy to transport, the building system lends itself to reconfiguration and adaption, while using only two modular wooden boxes, which stack together manually.
The Young Architect of the Year Award was won by Bogdan Demetrescu with Oana Greece, Ioana Hariga, Alma Preda, Radu Dorgo, Andrew Lazar, and Adrian Mihai Ovidiu Mihutescu, for Urban Green Artery (below). The project illustrates understanding of the need to connect urban green spaces, and adopt a systems approach to urban ecology.
Special recognition was given to entries including Cerc Boldesti community centre, which brings together several sustainable components in an understated design that harnesses the potential and the beauty of natural materials.
Our point of departure for our talk, Biotopia: towards a biological ideal, yesterday... H. G. Wells making a poignant link given the Utopia theme of the London Design Biennale 2016 celebrates the 500th anniversary of Thomas Moore's work of the same name, which in turn inspired H. G. Wells to write A Modern Utopia, which inspired by Darwin's On the Origin of Species, related to the various biodesign research and practice projects of the all-woman panel [Claudia Pasquero of ecoLogicStudio, Emma Flynn of AStudio, and myself] being explored during the discussion.
Melissa Sterry, design scientist, systems theorist, futurologist, cross disciplinary designer developing Bionic City®, and PhD Researcher.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
© Melissa Sterry 2017 All Rights Reserved