Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 26 to 40 of 40

Thread: Habitat which is 'alive'

  1. #26
    I agree with you,of course..i am not worried about fossil fuels,we can make microfiber out of corn. or recycled pop bottles.its just that Physics can do everything that this abomination could do so why not simply design homes which use the Sun and earth to heat themselves and wind and sun for electricity,and soil and plants to clean and oxygenate household air,and carbon dioxide and humanure to feed the soil and plants, and collect the Rain and use it wisely,there are shutters and skylite close rs using freon gas and Gravity,all simple physics

  2. #27

    I'm sorry I have not been keeping up with this board. I have not even been keeping up with the listserv recently. I have just been far too busy.

    I'm glad more people are expressing an interest in what is being discussed here, but I confess to being a little distraught by the direction that the conversation has taken.


    Your last post left me confused as to your intent. I presume the "abomination" you refer to was biological architecture. I think that certainly qualifies as a loaded statement. Why have you reacted with such hostility to the idea of a living building?

    The statement that "physics" can do everything that a biological architecture could do was unreasonably vague. If you intend that an investigation of natural phenomenon would inform the design of the built environment, certainly you are not going to be disputed. I think you might be misinterpreting the desired goals that others here hope to achieve with a living habitat, however. Ang and Joshua harbor an interest in an artificially intelligent habitat/environment that can interact with it's occupant. My main interest is in creating a medium to build with that can be assembled with molecular precision and can repair itself when damaged. A biological habitat would have the additional benefit of circumventing the conventional methods of construction which are energy intensive, wasteful through their imprecision and polluting through their fabrication. Your above statement that conventional architecture mediums can achieve all of this is simply unso. I think you were under the impression that the exclusive objective of this idea was to create an environmentally friendly building technology. To be sure, it can do all of the things that you mention above, but it can also be capable of so much more.

    The ethical considerations that are being expressed here are at least encouraging. I abstain from eating meat, myself, for ethical reasons and I would describe myself as a _militant_ animal rights activist, without apology. I dont know what I can do to further convince you that nothing I intend here, would in any way endanger or diminish the quality of life of any living creature. I dont think that anyone else here harbors such a sentiment either. It might help you to go back and read the earliest posts that I made in regaurds to my reverence for animal life and how that relates to my interest in biotechnology.

    I think what is essentially being sought here is a mastery of the most sophisticated building technology ever devised. The one concocted through nature. Genetically encoded molecular self assembly. Imagine for a second what could be accomplished with such a technology. If our carnivorous tendencies can be found in our genes, as Micholmes implies, then this represents the means by which man can take control of his own nature, and the nature of his environment. Imagine rebuilding it into something better than the "eat or be eaten" world that we currently inhabit.

  3. #28
    I dont know how much more explicit I can make this. It would indeed be a cuel designer who would create an organism with the mechanisms of reflection and the sensations of pain, without the means to defend itself.

    Which brings us to the point that seems to be escaping a number of people. If we are subjecting an organism to design intervention then we can conciously determine what mechanisms of cognition and perception the organism would actually have, or if it would be endowed with any at all. If desired, an organism can be customized to LACK all of the properties which inspire us to invest it with our ethical consideration. I can manually deactivate genes which code for cortex formation and higher order neurological structures. All that would be required for a utilitarian organism would be the inclusion of a brain stem for the control of autonomic functions. We are not talking about the creation of a slave.

  4. #29
    Hi,why not just manipulate a botanical design which could be self-repairing and able to gain its nutrition from the earth and sun and could refresh the indoor air and grow food in the home and the relationship could be reciprocal with humans giving back manure and carbon dioxide to fertilize the house,i think this has many advantages over your flesh and bone thing,i just feel that a symbiotic relationship with plants is possible whereas a relationship of living within flesh and blood is

  5. #30
    Well, maybe you can clarify precisely WHY you believe living inside a structure that is exclusively plant tissue would be more efficient. I have a vast array of materials at my disposal in animal tissues that would be denied to me if I were to adhere to this (thus far, arbitrary) prescription for only utilizing plant tissue. With the control of animal tissues I would be able to integrate neurons into tissue to function in an interactive capacity with the participant. I can insure regulation of internal temperatures homeothermically. I would not be able to achieve any of this with plant tissue. Why would I limit my palette of materials in the fasion you propose?

    Currently the potential is there for the utilization of plant tissue, animal tissues, and completely invented biological substances that would be customized at the molecular level to achieve a desired functionality.

    Why do you FEEL that a symbiotic relationship with a vegetable organism is possible but a habitation of a designed animal organism can only be parasitic? I would submit that calling this relationship "parasitic" can not be accurate. A parasitic relationship involves an organism evolving through natural selection to take advantage of an oppurtunity offered by another organism with a genetic imperitive completely separate from the invader.

    If you were going to draw the comparison as it is intended with this idea, it would involve the tick taking control of the genome of a mammal and adapting it for it's own ends. What we are talking about probably has no definition, as it is a condition that does not exist in nature. I dont believe that It can be defined as symbiotic OR parasitic if we are going to observe what these expression actually mean.

    I get the impression that you still have some ethical reservatons about the idea; that you suppose that it would still perpetuate some kind of suffering. I'm not proposing anything of the sort, I assure you. In fact I am very encouraged by the ethical consideration that is being invested in the idea by some people here. It saves me the trouble of raising the same issues.

    I propose we explore the ethical implications of biological architecture. Does anyone have an issue relative to thi that they would like to see addressed?

  6. #31
    I see your point on the animal vs. plant issue. Why limit yourself?

    However, lucky does bring up a good point. Where does the energy come from for your biological domiclie (meat house?)? And what happens when it, or a piece of it dies? Composting your "back door" seems, to me, more practicle than having to dispose of what is essentially medical waste.

    On the other hand, I know very little about what you're proposing, though it sounds very interesting. I may be misunderstanding, but it seems to me that perhaps you are being a bit too literal about all this.

    It's obvious that it's implosible to talk about biological evolution- or for that matter even "nature" (however you'd like to define it- in a modern sense, without considering human design. And all design, by definition, is interactive.

    I FEEL that you may be overdesigning for the sake of being radical (and I mean that in the best sense of the word). However, I am certainly not one to disparage design for design's sake.

    Much of the technology (i.e. biotechnology)I'm sure probably already exists to create "habitat which is 'alive'". I'd be interested if you drew some (bio)engineers into this conversation, perhaps they could better explain your ideas without your obvious need to defend it on "natural" and "ethical" grounds. I do not find your proposition offensive ethically, by the way (though I haven't really considered all the arguments). I do think that perhaps you've watched a bit too much Star Trek. I would just ask you to take a look at 'the home of the future' type exhibits of the 1950s. It's not that we don't have the technology to achieve these visions; it is that it's either too costly, or people simply aren't really as interested the technology as we thought they'd be.

    As a last point, considering that we must appreciate the "naturalness" of human design and it's effect on environment, what makes your meat and bones habitat any more natural than a glass and brick city?

    Really I think this is a great conversation, and I don't mean to sound cynical- these ideas are pretty revolutionary. I'd really like to read more, can you recommend anything, or if you've written anything yourself I'd love to read it. It's so hard to get a feel for this thing in the context of a message board. Thanks for putting the ideas out there. Sorry I rambled...

  7. #32
    Hi again,no i think the condition done exist in nature;are you familiar with the modus operandi of a Virus,a virus attaches itself to a living thing and injects its own DNA into its host causing the host to replicate the virus instead of itself,i^m still convinced that it is a bad idea because it has so much potential for being misused,where would you get your original material??yourself? the temperature inside it would probably be 8degrees
    how would you feed such a thing?imagine the noise and stench if it got sick.please study biology.

  8. #33

    I can assure you my literacy of biology is considerable. It is more than sufficient to demonstrate the plausibility and desirability of biological architecture here. Please dont ever speak to anyone contributing to this board in such a condescending manner again. I would like for this to be a real dialogue. I have no wish for it to become the "architecture hate page." I'm sure we can all remain civil if we try.

    Maintaining homeothermic conditions on the interior of a biological volume (like the one being proposed here) does not mean that the organism would maintain an internal temperature of 98 degrees. It simply means that the temperature can be regulated by the organisms internal mechanisms. ATP powers heat production in cells which is mitigated by a variety of devices. Usually by respiration and perpiration in mammals. However I am more interested in some of the thermal regulatory devices employed by sea creatures and (theoretically) by dinosaurs.

    How would I feed it? Probably with bacteria. In fact, replacing the (potentially miles worth) of intestinal wall with a stack of bacteria was one of the first innovations I considered to make it possible. I suppose I could always feed it small children. They dont always exist in sufficient numbers to make a meal of, though, so the bacteria is probably the the most pragmatic solution. It can be manufactured in abundance, supported by bioreactor, and is extremely energy efficient.

    Where would I get the initial genetic material? Well, since we are talking about a technology that exists in a post genomic civilization, I could anticipate our infnastructure maintaining banks of genetically tailored totipotent cells harvested from a range of organisms only as limited in variety as life on earth. However, since you asked me specifically if I would harvest material from myself...

    Well yes. Of course I would. In fact I have. The paucity of biological material to work with is frequently the determining factor in the pursuit of research within the discipline of biotechnology. But consider this; If the desired goal is to create a habitat that is customized for the inhabitant, then the inhabitant may be the best source for the original material. Imagine a condition where our architecture really is an extension of our bodies.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
    Aug 2001
    SERA Architects-Portland
    Just a simple thought, as I am still trying to absorb the past 2 weeks of posts, I have a hard time moving into a house with someone else's carpet and find myself replacing it immediately. I can't imagine moving into literally someone else's skin. Unless you are suggesting that society will become sedentary?

    Kincaid- can you post some more sites or places to find conceptual sketches of these ideas, whether they be your own or someone else's. This might help to make sure that everyone is indeed talking about the same concept.

  10. #35
    I am suggesting that the commercially motivated desires of society are not a relavent consideration when one is designing. The authority to prescribe a condition that society should emulate comes from knowlede.

    As far as further sites for investigation go, The only conceptual sketches I have observed to exist for this idea have been created by Paul Lafolley and Jeff Miles. Neither of them has a web site unfortunately; and neither do I. It should not be too hard to find a record of their work though. Just look around.

    Why? Where do you think there is confusion?

  11. #36

    I'm glad the topic has compelled you to contribute. I hope you continue to, although I FEEL you might have an issue with the way I frame the conversation. Dont worry. I'm not quite the ogre that I may appear to be.

    I touched upon the issue of energy production in the message above (to laduke). I can elaborate on the idea over time, although I am concerned about investing so much time in this message board right now.

    A couple of points you made troubled me a little. One was the prescription of the status of "medical waste" to a meathouse (I like this expression) that had expired. I'm cognizant of the fact that a biological habitat would have a limit placed upon it's existence, but it seems to me that the same can be said of a conventional habitat. My point is that I think it might be misleading to assign the title "medical waste" to this thing, along with all the unsavory connotations attatched to it. It might be a reaction to the aprehension some people have over biotechnology and the artifacts it can create. We dont attatch the same connotations to a beached whale or a felled tree, after all. A meathouse or a treehouse, once deceased, could have more in common with one of these. Forget composting the back door. The entire structure could possibly be returned to the soil.

    I'm not sure what you meant by my being too "literal." I hope you will elaborate on that point soon. I would like to respond, but I am uncertain of your intent.

    I have no interest in being radical. I dont think anyone here does. I'll let them speak for themselves. My only interest is in making living buildings. And I'm relatively familiar with the type of future inspired projects that you are speaking of. Utopian city concepts of the variety proposed by the modernists, the worlds fair expositions and the Walt Disney home of tomorrow can all be seen as magnificently arrogant failures as prescriptions for the built environment. I refute the notion, however, that this kind of prescription is innapropriate or even arrogant. Civilization can not be prescribed by people who value suburban sprawl and Ethan Allen over architecture.

    Too much star trek? I dont think so. I rather like Ross Lovegrove. Does that count?

    I dont want you to think that I am opposed to criticism. I welcome it. I'm just critical of it.

    That's a little joke.

  12. #37
    Well--->I must say that I'm happy to find an analysis of architecture which envisions a future of building growth. I have entertained this theory in some of my own work however I was totally slammed for it at university.

    Firstly I want to just say some of my beliefs relating to this subject. As far as architecture goes I feel it is an all encompasing field of study--->to me everything is architecture--->as far as developing a biological architectural skin--->its been done --->your wearing it right now--->that's not to say we dont need another one for habitation--->i.e tha traditional definition of architecture being tha house--->wat U propose is tha construction of this as a living breathing structure--->

    now for tha second point of my fundamental beliefs (for which again I am often slammed)everything is living --->animals plants rocks dirt air--->EVERYTHING--->Its all just a matter of definition and time scales--->to say that something feels no pain if it is a plant or even a rock is merely based on our definition of pain--->not sure of tha relevance

    O.K Ive gone of the trak a bit--->sorry--->jus got a little bit excited--->Biology is tha science of this century--->i believe we are going to see wat U propose in terms of living structure--->i think U would be doing yourself a dis-service by disregarding the incorporation of AI as this will surely be a major element of these structres--->tekno-genetics--->in terms of an analogous refernce to tha human, rather than skin I think these structures will form more of a brain in tha primary stages of development--->infomation storage units--->maybe animal = information--->plant = structure--->electricity = transfer

  13. #38
    Hello, there. I've just skimmed over the postings and am intrigued by the potential of the ideas presented. I myself am an architecture student/dreamer and avid sci-fi fantasy reader/writer. Big mix, I guess. Perhaps I could offer some of my thought on the feasibility of an organic structure.

    I find the idea of an animal structure may have its benefits in the ability to adapt and adjust to suit seasonal and climatic changes, but I feel that the con far outweigh the pros in this case. Of course, feeding, maintaining, disposal of wastes, and other considerations mentioned above contribute to a high care situation, that is perhaps less suited to a dwelling situation.

    Certain plants, however, have developed quite successful adaptive abilities to deal with cold, wet, drought, and other conditions that could be used in a vegetable living structure. A building that used a leaf-like exterior skin could open and close in response to interior temp, humidity, light and a number of other conditions that many plants currently respond to. The benefit of using sun, soil and water as the primary nutrition cannot be understated. Additionally, on a weight to strength ratio, plant fibers rate quite highly on the list. Add to that the oxygen production inherent in vegetative growth and you create an ideal living environment.

    If you do want to go down the animal path, why be limited to a single organism? Coral is an excellent example of a community organism that could have a dry land equivalent. The structure is strong, lightweight, and with the multitude of air pockets such a structure would produce, would likely have a high insulation value. it would also be accommodating to working with foreign materials. saw out a portion for a mechanical system or door, or window. Little would be lost or damaged to the entire colony, and the affected organisms could be relocated with out loss.

    Just a few thoughts on the possibilities.

  14. #39
    Allow me to amend that last message. Just in case you have difficulty contacting me through the link. I can be reached at phildurkin@cs.com

    (Philip Durkin)

  15. #40
    ABC ANG,

    I am extremely interested in discussing this issue with you. I am a student at Penn State University interested in utilizing modern biotechnology to genetically engineer a completely biological structure for human habitation. This is an idea I have been contemplating for several years, and I have more scrutinously fleshed it out in the last year and a half. However, I have been frustrated by the discovery of how few people within the discipline have considered the idea.

    I would welcome an exchange of notes and ideas with you. I am unable to Email you from this site due to a problem with my ISP. Please Email me at

    (Philip Durkin)

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 52
    Last post: 06 Apr 2009, 6:20 PM
  2. Your prefered habitat
    Cities and Places
    Replies: 76
    Last post: 29 Oct 2007, 10:36 AM
  3. Bigotry is alive and well in America
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 44
    Last post: 24 Mar 2004, 7:51 AM
  4. Saddam: Alive or Dead?
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 11
    Last post: 30 Apr 2003, 3:00 PM