Monday, September 19, 2011

Biological architecture

Here's a little collection of conceptual architecture that shows a shift towards holistic design thinking on both the macro- and the microscale. This kind of work definitely brings a new aesthetic into the world while opening up our minds to the idea that what we are creating as humans might not be that far off in quality from what the natural world has been creating all those millions of years, even that maybe our work lies in line with that process itself. And whereas surely this approach to design is not what will 'save humanity' as it might account mostly for our physical needs, but not for our complete scope of psychical needs, it surely is a wonderful step in the ascent of humankind.

Vincent Callebaut has created a far-future concept for airships fueled by a specific type of seaweed. These organisms would produce not oxygen but dihydrogen through photosynthesis, hence the name of the concept 'Hydrogenase'. Vincent envisions these 400-meter tall ships to not only function as passenger transportation, but also as floating buildings such as hospitals. They would be able to move at 175km/h by means of twenty wind propellors. The ships would furthermore be provided with an intelligent skin that incorporates nano-technologies to make it self-cleaning and self-repairing.

Yheu-Shen Chua has re-envisioned the Hoover dam to be a highly organic and open structure that actually makes transparent the waterflow and the ecology within the water. It would incorporate a bridge, a gallery, and a vertical aquarium.

If it's up to the French guys who created the 'Flat Tower' concept, a global-minded humanity makes no big deal of who owns what piece of land. Instead of building vertically to create more living spaces in the dense urban environment, they take a different approach: open and organic horizontal structures that dome the underlying cityscape. This might be very interesting for hot parts of the world, where such a structure could convert a large amount of sunlight into energy, and provide the city with more shadow area.

The concept skyscraper 'Hydra' is envisioned to provide energy to its inhabitants by means of a lightweight grapheme exoskeleton. This structure would attract lightning bolts which could then charge several mega-batteries.

Finally, here's a concept from the nineties by Eugene Tsui for a sustainable city built in the sea. Of special interest is the structure of the building, which is modeled after the human spine in order to direct and disperse stresses and strains. It would also have a "Living Machine" module that employs marine organisms to transform sea water into drinking water.

By the way, there's an excellent Zaha exhibition in Paris until October 30th. You can find it in a special pavilion just outside the Institut du Monde Arabe. It shows some of Zaha's projects, some experimental work, her working process and underlying design philosophy. I've visited myself and overall, it gives you a good feel of what organic and bio-inspired architecture can become.

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