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.
Please join Bionic City in declaring your support for Greater London National City Park!
What's the big idea? In the campaign's own words:
"Let’s make London the world’s first National Park City. A city where people and nature are better connected. A city that is rich with wildlife and every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors. A city where we all enjoy high-quality green spaces, the air is clean to breathe, it’s a pleasure to swim in its rivers and green homes are affordable. Together we can make London a greener, healthier and fairer place to live. Together we can make London a National Park City... More than 80% of the UK’s population live in towns and cities. These urban areas now cover 7% of the UK and 10% of England. Think of urban landscapes and what comes to mind are industrial sites, houses, roads and rail lines. But in reality it is a richly woven tapestry of greens and blues made up of gardens, rivers, parks, woodland, nature reserves, canals, meadows, woodland, allotments, streams and lakes."
Today sees the initiative launch a crowdfunding campaign with The New Civic on Indiegogo. Funds raised will create a "huge, beautiful fold-out map of London's amazing outdoors, produced affordably for everyone." Your help would be much appreciated in making the joint, non-profit campaign a success!
Make your declaration of support here: http://www.nationalparkcity.london/organisation_support
Support the Indiegogo campaign here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mapping-the-london-national-park-city-nature-education#/
Join ecoLogic Studio's Claudia Pasquero [The Bartlett], bioartist Heather Barnett [Central Saint Martins], AStudio's Emma Flynn [UCL], design history researcher Dr. Paddy O' Shea [Kingston University] and I, as we explore 'Biotopia: towards a biological ideal' at Somerset House on September 24th 2016, 18:00 - 19:00, as part of the official programme of the London Design Biennale.
Read more at: http://www.londondesignbiennale.com/node/150
Many thanks to the inspirational Darran Anderson, author of the 'Financial Times Best Books of 2015' listed Imaginary Cities, for his thought-provoking questions in this interview with Human Spaces.
"Darran: We tend to focus on the macrocosm of the city but you’ve shown there’s much to learn from the microcosm: crystals, cells, flora and fauna, metabolic processes and so on. Have we been dwelling too much on the shell of architecture at the expense of the biology, chemistry and physics of the city?
Melissa: My experience of most late 20th and early 21st century built city architectures has been that of a crescendo of materialism, and of all that it constitutes; ego, inequality, division, ostentatiousness, and superficiality. However, that which has manifested is by no means for want of original architectural ideas, inventiveness, and ambition. There are plenty of wonderfully inspired and experimental projects at the intersection of science, arts and humanities, and slowly, but surely we’re seeing a progression towards more interdisciplinary design thinking and practice.
Darran: Part of the problem, your work suggests, is that we tend to resort to limiting binaries – the man-made and the organic, the city and the country etc – and miss the interconnected and inter-dependent processes between all these things. Do we forget that the city is an environment or even a series of environments?
Melissa: Are humans really so different from animals? For example, our closest living relatives – chimps – are highly territorial, so much so as to have been observed beating their neighbours to death in turf wars. Arguably, our behaviour is akin to that of chimps, for what are cities, if not demarcations of boundaries? But, like those of chimps, the boundaries we draw are not just culturally specific, but they are species specific. I think it imperative that all they as are stakeholders in our cities remember this, and no less so than architects, planners, policymakers, and financiers."
Read more at:
Join me and the team from Interface at their Manchester showroom on October 11th 2016, where we'll be exploring 'Bioaesthetics: Biology's Visual Narrative', as part of the Green Week programme.
Find our more about Interface's collaborations with biothinkers at :
Renewing cities: Building environments for new generations is the main theme of the 4th edition of Architecture Conference & Expo. The event, which takes place on October 6th 2016 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, will explore the impact of technology in architecture, public transportation, green buildings, security by design, and cultural/residential/urban spaces.
I'm delighted to be joining speakers from across Europe, including David Cash, Chairman of BDP and Professor Irena Bauman of Sheffield University.
In addition to the conference and expo, the event sees the culmination of a national architecture competition, of which the winners will be selected by jury members including myself, during an evening gala ceremony.
I expand upon the above, and discuss a few of themes that l will present in the keynote, including bioarchitectural futures and Bionic City, in an interview with Ordinul Arhitecților din România [Order of Architects of Romania].
Read the interview at:
Read more at: http://architectureconf.ro/
Melissa Sterry, design scientist, systems theorist, futurologist, cross disciplinary designer developing Bionic City® & PhD Researcher.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
© Melissa Sterry 2016 All Rights Reserved