Slime Mold and Other Delights

Our Tuesday lecture this week was by Rachel Armstrong on the subject of her very interesting work that bridges the gap between biology and architecture.

To oversimplify, she told a quick version of the story up to this point. Amongst other ideas, she linked electronic computation, the manufacturing processes of DNA material, biological formalism, and design part of the a short-sighted view of “nature” and its usefulness in architectural pursuit. She then said that this was all a bit trifling as compared to what will come next… And for that – let me be the first to say that a new manifesto of Living Architecture will be unveiled by herself and her team – including Neil Spiller – on November 4th. I’ve seen the talking points, and it is incredible.

She spoke of the different architecturally significant properties exhibited and used by some “lower” life, such as slime molds. Their non-hierarchical, self organizing properties reminded me of an animate version of the rhizome, only because I am in the midst of reading about them in a different context. That’s not to say it’s not a helpful mental analogy, even though not literal. She also spoke about the compelling features of Diatomic Algae, Bryopsis Algae, Coralina, Blue Green Algae (“Living Rocks”), bacteria, and of Proto-cells. She spoke of the robust nature of these forms of life, and how they are not controllable, but only persuadable…

I am being willfully cagey here, I want to let Rachel et al have the thunder when they unveil this thing in a couple weeks. I’m excited to see the new manifesto let loose on the world.

Once you start looking, there are so many starting points for the architectural ramifications of these forms of life that it’s staggering that no one has begun to explore them before now. And it’s heady, exciting, and almost intimidating that we get the chance to be fairly early explorers.

From the metaphysical implications to the structural and ecological, I am also excited by what these life forms imply and admit as generative concepts in the process of architectural examination and synthesis this year.

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1 Comment

  1. p.s. Stay tuned for the results of our preliminary workshop with Perry Kulper as well as some observations about one of our sites, Air Street.


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