Now that we’re able to actively change the performance of living entities, and make use of living nature in new and fascinating ways, spatial design becomes a different game. A lot of ‘use and discard’ practices can be replaced with the creation of complete life cycles, functions that used to be performed by inorganic constructions (light bulbs and lamp posts) can be replaced with organic ones (light emitting trees). Different materials, different techniques, a different notion of what the power of design can be.
We have seen the future, and it’s biosynthetic. More precisely it’s a future where biological systems are twisted, spliced, and altered, to such an extent that any distinction between synthetic and organic is lost. Gone are the days of blunt engineering as a means of total control – concrete dams and electro-shock therapy. Today science is moving us deeper into the nano-world of microchips and molecules, where new more refined forms of control are possible, where organic processes can be mimicked, modified, and augmented. In this new biosynthetic world, luminescent trees will light our sidewalks, massive oyster beds will defend us from the floods, and hacked Lyre birds will broadcast the radio. But with new powers comes new responsibilities. We’ve seen a thousand TED talks promising us these new wonders, but we’ve rarely discussed the human element. What does it all require of us? What are the new produced? The skill sets, knowledge, and codes of ethics required to maneuver in this brave new biosynthetic world?
Is all this biology talk not spatial enough for you? Then fast forward to our insert, where we’ve gone back to our architectural roots by digging up structuralism. Working with The Berlage we look at structuralism’s ambitiously modest attempt to create ‘open structures’. Looking back on its history and assessing current potential the question arises: is there room for a kind of structuralism re-loaded today?