I have to say this video at first confused me, and certainly left me with more questions than answers. The possibility of growing a living architecture from proto-cell deposits certainly seems like an interesting idea, however it’s plausibility seems to be the biggest question in my mind about Rachel Armstrong’s ideas. However, she does bring up a good point when she speaks about our need to develop a new building model. We are still using the “same Victorian [way of doing] architecture we used 200 years ago. As the nature of our environment changes Armstrong reminds us that it is time for a change in our architecture in that environment. It’s time for a new way of thinking about architecture and design. We need to think about how “nature patterns a structure” as part of a “bottom up construction” process that works cohesively along side the way nature builds structure already, her proposition for an alternative to “imposing a structure on nature” as we have been doing for so many years now. One example in my own work that I can think of, where I allowed nature to “pattern” the form of the structure I designed is the community shelter for the redesign of a park in the Glenwood neighborhood. I had the walls of the structure angle in at the center of the shelter to act as a funnel to capture/ concentrate prevailing winds to act as a natural air conditioning system. I also situated the structure on the site so that the openings were aligned in a South Westerly direction, as the prevailing winds in North Carolina run in this direction for 10 months out of the year.
Metabolic materials to build constructions, this is a new approach for designing to me. When thinking about the sample she gave about the limestone reef under Venice using protocell technology makes me realize that in fact the use of materials that regenerate can help to build structures that can heal places in need. She said that this is not going to happen in a short term, but that in the right environment conditions it would happen. I am wondering now if the studies include predictions of what would happen in the future with this organism that keep regenerating; would they adapt to the conditions and change the environment surrounding? I think that the term ecological dimension should be used more in our level of thinking when designing. The link of architecture and nature is available everywhere. She also mentions the fact of generating a conversation in a system, the fact of production or absorption of energy was a great sample to actually think of how architecture is part of the environment and not an object placed in it. Speak the same language of nature because we are not strangers to it, we are part of it.
When I first began my design education in 1975 there was also a fair amount of conversation about changing the building systems that had been used for centuries. My professors spent more time talking about the Bauhaus that any other style or period and we all expected the evolution of architecture to make huge strides in the very near future. My major research project was on Buckminster Fuller and geodesic domes. I thought that 40 years later new homes would be a variety of innovative shapes, systems and materials, not just new iterations of brick or siding clad rectangles. It seems that the major “innovation” has been to replace wood with vinyl – not the progress that I had hoped for.Recently I read an article about an architect in Clemmons who designed and built his own home. He had planned to use the opportunity of designing for himself to experiment with new systems and materials. Unfortunately, he found that financing became a barrier to this plan. Banks do not like experiments when they are risking capital in a project. This made me aware that I had missed an opportunity. Our family's very small self-built mountain cabin had been financed by a small inheritance and a line of credit on our existing house. We had the chance to experiment, but instead took a more traditional approach. I am afraid that I have been a part of the problem instead of the solution.
I do feel the building industry is stagnant, with old ideas. We need some lively ones brought into the conversation. I'm open for new ideas that work in tune with nature. I think this is a very interesting concept, yet I agree with Kelly, I don't know how plausible it really is as a building material, but I reserve an open mind test cases. We definitely need to do something better than we are already, so I applaud the conversation. Personally I like the idea, but how do we implement new ideas into mainstream concepts? Susan brings up a very good point about financing. Banks are not willing to take chances on experimental housing, even if its for the greater good. I think the solution here is how do we finance test case scenarios and research? That usually falls under the umbrella of a university or government finance, but never mainstream practices. So how do we bring about mainstream change? I guess the same way we changed from wood to OSB. Through test cases and UL approvals. But starting the conversation with new innovative ideas is the first step. Keep dreaming, keep thinking, keep creating. I love it all.
The idea of this TED talk is not completely clear for me, I got that they create a living system to build the physical environment but how it works is unclear for me. The part of the talk that was about new methods of building a structure and constructing environment was interesting and we had discussed it before in the class from different point of view. As we discussed, we need to change our mind set and our living habit, and in this movie she also mentioned to this point that the way we build our buildings need to be changed, as well. We don’t need to make our walls out of brick or wood panels, we can create living cells to make the structure for us. This an innovative solution, that shows not only one can comes up with the ideas for the current buildings but also there can be some innovative ideas to change the method of building our environment. A very abstract example is, if we need intimacy and closure, we can create dust or fog or smoke, something that is floating in the air, and then light it up. Therefore nobody can see from outside to the inside. This is not based on the biomimicry concept but is another way of approaching to architecture.