• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Habitat which is 'alive'

abc ang

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
i am working on a thesis with regards to a habitat which is alive
i called it the 'living' habitat, a literally 'living' one.

one which understands and responds to the user in all ways. as well as to the environment, creating a sustainable habitat. similar to an organism in the ecosystem.
i see our habitats now as parasites to the ecosystem.our habitats are also not responsive, not customized to the user.

if given the choice, how would you want your 'living' habitat to respond to you, or your surrounding?

how would you feel to live inside a living organism?

would you treat your habitat as a pet or even friend?

do you think technology will enable us to achieve this someday?
 
Messages
1
Points
0
hi,

i would very much like to be a part of this discussion, however i am an archibot forum junkie, and cannot seem to tear myself away. there are many serious and somewhat "lighthearted" discussions simultaneously going on at www.archibot.com. it is good to see the architecture profession finally loosen it's collective tie.

steve stibbins, architect
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Mr. Stibbins,

Please forgive the length of time I am taking to respond to your post. Ang had Emailed me about this some time ago and I must admit that I had completely forgotten about the thread that he had started here. recently I have been considering (at Ang's prompting) some manner of forum for ideas like this one. Recently I sent out a mass Emailing asking for opinions about the idea to various people. I hope to create a diologue about it, demonstrate the technical feasibility of the idea, outline a plan of materialization, and discuss the implications of the concept. It was reccomended to me by a friend that I attempt to move the idea to an internet forum or import it to a listserv. For now, you are welcome to participate in the discussion. Just Email me at the address above. I am unable to contact you through your link above.

Kincaid
 

Sara

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Responding to abc ang. My background is in Environmental Studies and Geography. Many of my courses deal with sustainable development and our natural environment. I believe our human habitat is alive, however, we sometimes put up too many walls that disassocociate ourselves from the natural world. I believe planners and designers, such as architects can lead us closer to the environment. As planners, artists, and designers really do foreshadow our future. The key to succeed with this is to design holistically. Interested to hear your comments.....
 

Joshua

Member
Messages
23
Points
2
Responding to all the above.

Just the other week I was talking with a friend working with the guy who developed the touch pad and other such technologies meant to respond to if not emulate the human senses. This led to my interest in AI and how it might be applied to a building or home as if to create a living organism as all of you are suggesting.

I am very excited by the ideas being talked about here. Although not an expert in the areas of systems theory and technology, my interest in these topics have led me to study Environmental Sciences and most recently architecture. I would like to join your discussion and see where it leads us.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
It's a remarkable coincidence that I checked on this thread right after someone new contributed to it.

To Joshua and Sara:
If the concepts being mentioned above interest you, then PLEASE send me a message at phildurkin@cs.com

This thread does not seem to attract a great deal of activity, and so Ang and I chose to pursue the discussion via Email. It seems to me that anyone who wants to participate can be put on the list.

There is just one thing that I should like to clarify. Please understand that when Ang or myself make reference to a "living" or "biological" architecture, we are speaking of a biologically "alive" architecture in every literal sense. For some reason that I can not fathom, everyone that I mention the idea to believes that I mean it as a metaphor to invest the design with. We are, however, talking about the material technology. I am, for instance, interested in culturing bone and soft tissue as architectural medium.

Sara, I have a considerable ethical investment in protecting the natural environment, but I dont tend to harbor that investment based upon the same standard that most environmentalists do. It is my position that most westerners who seek to protect the environment, do so, so that people can hunt, fish, hike, camp and swim in it. I'm only interested in preserving it for it's indigenous organisms. I also run into some conflict with environmentalists where they tend to view the development of biotechnology as a problem instead of a solution. I might enjoy discussing the issue with you.

Joshua, I have a broader interest in concepts for an interactive architecture which cross over into ideas for artificial intelligence. I would enjoy discussing it with you, and I recall that Ang had a similar interest in such ideas. You might want to investigate the MIT media lab/ architecture. They conduct a lot of interesting research into precisely what you are talking about.
 

prana

Cyburbian
Messages
565
Points
17
Kincaid-

The biological architecture that you are suggesting is something that I have never heard of. Am slightly interested, but have not heard about it until today.

I do, however, take a little offense to your comment that westerners who protect the environment, do so for hunting, fishing, etc. and that you wish to preserve it for its indigenious organisms. What the hell are we?

I certainly don't consider the concrete jungle of modern cities, with biotechnically altered foods and air so polluted that you can't see through it as being the human races' indegenious environement. Maybe that is naive of me, but definitely not where I, as a human being, feel natural. And I am not even touching the psychological aspects of the "environment" (using that word loosely) that we have created for ourselves to survive in.

Sorry for the rant, especially if I misunderstood your post!

Hasta
prAna
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Outside of myself, very few people have considered the idea. Even fewer, in professional practice. I could recommend, if you are genuinely interested, the work of a few architects.

Eugene Tsui. Tsui works with conventional materials and building technologies, but his structural designs are based upon forms found in nature. He is probably the best example I can think of, of an architect/ designer whose designs are informed by a knowledge of the mechanical properties of biological organisms. Beyond that, at least one of his designs calls for the use of a biological skin for the cladding of the building. I questioned him about this, and he confirmed for me that he is contemplating the development of a completely biological architecture.

Ted Krueger. Krueger has done some interesting theorizing on architecture in the last ten years. Most of his designs are mechanical in nature. Of interest here, is his concept of "heterotic architecture." Essentially, he is proposing the same thing that I am. That modern biotechnology can be harnessed towards the end of utilizing biological tissues as architectural medium.

Paul Laffoley. Laffoley is a flake; but he also has an astronomically high IQ, so he can afford to be a flake. Laffoley is trained as an architect, but is not practicing. He is actually a rather successful artist from the New York area. His most recent show featured an artwork that was actually plan and elevation drawings as well as technical specifications for a building that was a living plant growing out of the ground. Until recently he had been the only person I had observed to produce authentic "plans" for a biological building. For some reason that art show (which I consider to have been rather obscure in character) garnered a lot of publicity with his plant building. I saw it featured in three different magazines.

These three are a good place to start if you want to research the idea. Keep in mind that All of these people arrived at the idea independently. As far as I know they don't even know each other. I cant even begin to explain where I came up with it myself.


>

I offend people frequently. It doesn't bother me. I'm not certain how to respond to this comment. I cant tell if you are disputing the position that westerners valuize the environment for the reasons that I cited, or if you take issue with my prioritizing wildlife over human recreation. My position is as follows. Environmentalism in western culture has become a rather shallow affair. The mainstream position is that the natural environment is valuable because of some benefit that it accrues to mankind. This is the problem. People tend to define the "worth" of something by how they can use it. They see no intrinsic value in anything past their own shallow considerations of how they can benefit from it's use. When the mainstream attempts to justify the protection of the environment, they do so by calling it the conservation of "natural resources." If you consider that language, you will discover that it implies the premise of conservation for future use. Wildlife is not considered to have any intrinsic worth of their own. They are defined by how we can exploit them as resources. This position is more than just intellectually dishonest. It's unethical.

I have an ethical investment in every organism more mentally sophisticated than a fish. That includes human beings. If you look at my original message you will discover that my prioritization of "indigenous organisms" does not exclude them. However, mainstream western ideology subscribes to the expectation that I should invest humans with MORE ethical concern than other organisms. I suspect that your position does the same. This position is unreasonable and highly unethical. I refute any sentiment of this kind.


>

I don't consider modern western civilization to be a natural condition either. It doesn't matter, however. Many people attach a connotation of "good" or "right" to that which is natural. The connotation is misplaced. From an ethical perspective, what is right is that which does not perpetuate suffering and promotes happiness. I don't seek the protection of the environment because it is "natural." I do it because the indigenous wildlife has nowhere else to go. If I succeed in becoming the worlds first genomic architect, I might use my expertise to design a new kind of "natural" habitat. One where everyone does not need to eat one another to survive.


>

That's all right. I'm not bothered.


Don't ever trust an architect who does not at least entertain Utopian ideals, Prana.

Kincaid.
 

prana

Cyburbian
Messages
565
Points
17
Kincaid-

I have to start by saying that we are not far from similar views, at least from what I can tell from this brief exchange. I also have to apologize for my inability to get certain points across. This is the first intellectual conversation that I have had about architecture in about 10 years. I am hoping to change my career back to what I want it to be and not what it actually is, so that time lapse doesn’t happen again. Anyway…

Thanks for the names. I have read about Eugene Tsui, but hadn’t seen his work until I jumped on his webpage this morning. His designs and anyone else’s for that matter, that design with a knowledge of biological systems is certainly something to be appreciated. In designing my home, I have used similar concepts of thermodynamics as he did in the Wilson residence, except that mine will be a straw-bail, rammed earth and adobe structure when completed. Some of Tsui’s other designs are definitely not my style. Simply designing buildings that emulate biological structures, whether they be shells, DNA strands, amoebas, whatever, doesn’t fulfill the same satisfaction simply because human beings can’t use those structures as efficiently as the creatures who do naturally.

Designing inefficient structures is something to work against. Like Tsui, I believe “human beings seem least gifted with an inborn sense of efficient, intelligent design. All creatures that build do so instinctively, precisely and with a marvelous understanding of their domain. In many instances animals seem to have an understanding of the earth that goes far beyond their immediate surroundings. … It seems that living creatures are aware of the invisible forces of our planet. We human beings, however, seem to lack this marvelous instinctual intelligence inherent to other creatures; we must learn it--and the greatest resource we have is the open book of nature. “

Westerners do tend to value the environment for the reasons that you cited. I was trying to say that human beings ARE indigenous to that same environment, yet we are inclined to destroy and abuse it. Environmentalism has become very shallow, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to change that thinking. I agree with you that humans should not be thought of as being above other organisms. Protection of the environment, from my point of view, is simply because that is where I live. That is my indigenous environment. Cities do not feel natural or comfortable, but a place where I am forced to survive.

prAna
 

Joshua

Member
Messages
23
Points
2
To all above-

These thoughts and references are great. They have filled my spare time with interesting research and thoughts...thanks!

I would like to suggest that we revisit, if only briefly, abc ang's very first post. I believe it is the most centralizing and grounding statement to date. Though the meat of it is mostly questions, it has the potential to orginize the above threads into a very powerful purpose.

So, with that I wonder how prAna's idea's on the environment might coalesce around the implications of abc ang's musings. Further, I am intriqued by Kincaid's predilection for the 'biological'.

How do these ideas gel into a process towards a "'living' habitat"? And what do we want it to be?...A friend, a protector, protege, mentor, a gift, a doorman,..?

Many ideas to share, but first: reactions to this suggestion?

Joshua
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
There are some interesting analogies to be found in the prospect of a living building. If the evolution of building technology has been a concerted effort to manipulate the environment we writhe around in, then perhaps this development would mean a more perfect mollification of our environments hostility. I like to call it a return to the womb. There is also a potential correlation to Jonah and the whale. Or Jappetto and HIS whale.

I dont think i make the distinction between pet and friend that most people do, but this question DOES get right to the heart of the matter. I have neglected the concept of created intelligence. My own concepts for bio-tecture call for the gestation of designed organisms but NEVER for the creation of anything with the mechanisms of thought and reflection at it's disposal.

That is not to say that I do not believe that we could live in an arrangement with a cognizant and intelligent biological habitat. I am uncertain of the ability of most human beings to do just this, and treat their habitat in an ethical manner.

I will touch on this more in the future.

Absolutely. The technology is advancing rapidly. However, I hink the biggest obstachle will be mastering the technical expertise of the multitude of disciplines that will be required to submit biology to design intervention. This may seem like a crude assessment, but I have given this a great deal of thought. Even with access to the most sophisticated technology, we can not achieve competent design without understanding it. Otherwise all of this is just academic speculation.

I want to live in a building clad in human skin. Is that WRONG of me?
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Hello.

I just wanted to let anyone who was interested know about this. I stumbled across a sample of Paul Laffoley's work on www.artnet.com/arthome/artistindex.asp

The design for the biological building he conceived of is not featured. However there is an image of a bridge, which looks strangely biological in nature. This is hardly earth shattering news, but I thught that some of you would like to go take a look.
 

Micholmes

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Hello,

I am very lucky that I have found a discussion like this, at last. I am studying architecture and have not yet met more than three or four people interested in this way.

The idea of biological house fits me perfectly.
THIS , in my view, will lead to brand new viewpoint of human-nature relationship. Inteligent super-skin would give a man a great freedom.

Indeed, what is a substantial idea of house?
It is an enclosure of space with some constant life-related functions. People have spend much time realizing how to achieve stable living conditions against everchanging environment. Now if you could create such an enclosure, but make it light, wearable and self-sufficient, you would get this super-skin.

However, I am not throwing away the basic idea of house as a shelter for more than one man. Of course people like to gather somewhere, at least a family needs to.

Because you can resolve many human needs by technological advances, but the basic life element (a family) will remain irreplaceable for a long time, i think.

You may ask: Well, then what is a difference between the family house today and your house?

My house would be only a partly house. It would retain only those functions, which the super-skin could not fulfil. It could be moved easily to a new location, it would enclose a special type of intimate space, where noone out could see indoors.

The superskin would give a man an opportunity to spend his days in a real natural world...

How do you feel about this?
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
This is kind of an interesting notion. Of course, as soon as you start proposing subjecting the biological to design intervention, ideas like this one are natural. A second skin as a vehicle for movement through the environment sounds like a kind of idealized architectural condition. One where man is unspoiled by the decivilizing properties of industrial society. Naked and alone. A recreation of the condition before the expulsion from the garden.

I have observed a few design professionals express an interest in the potential of biotechnological design outside the domain of the building works we have mentioned. A few years ago the adjunct curator of design at the Cooper Hewit made the remark that the future of design was in the domain of genetic technology, and that more and more biological organisms were becoming subject to design intervention. She went on to contemplate that the quaint imagerey that we associate with biological forms (kidney-shapes, amoebas, boomerangs) would be outmoded by designed forms.

I also saw Greg Lynn remark in print that he would like to see genetically engineered customized organs become availible in twenty years.

I might take the concept of the second skin a step further, to include the potential of people altering their own bodies to accomodate their environment and sensibilities. We would become architecture.
 
Messages
1
Points
0
its interesting to now be apart of this conversation, i have been following this thread for quite a long time ...

it seems the idea of the skin whether primary;i.e. for a singularperson can also attach itself to another; we may define a new way of family communion; that may also redefine the idea of a house from a stasis space; such things can also have further say poitical implications; you can attach from a city to another city. in such cases the censorial problems may be a thing which will need better technology and would probably answered by perceptorial studies on humans.. understanding the frontiers of the brain...
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
You were not sent the last mailing on the subject of biological architecture in which it was partially outlined, Prana, but I think you would discover that the development of biotechnology is not a priority that is mutually exclusive of preservation of the environment. The creation of materials that do not subscribe to the tradition of industrial production (which produce fewer impurities, have lower energy requirements, eliminate the process of industrial assembly and emissions through self assembly capability, and are biodegradable) are arguably a vast improvement from the perspective of the environmentalist. For some reason the environmentalist movement has cast biotech in an adversarial role. I think this is a mistake. The science is simply a tool. What is achieved with it will be determined by who has access to it. If a villian must be revealed, then revile Monsanto Corp., not biotech.

On the matter of the second skin; I never proposed that it would shelter us from the detriments associated with industry, but the hostilities of nature. I was referring to the wind, rain, extremes of temperature, etc, as you pointed out. However the presumption that we were talking about a shelter from air and noise pollution was yours alone. There is no pollution in the ideal condition that I envision.

In retrospect, I cant find any indication made by Micholmes or myself that this technology was something we were considering to be natural. Obviously it is not. Sometimes I think that expression might be used to indicate the biological or genetically programmed condition of what is being discussed. There might not be a better term to distinguish these concepts from the more mundane variety of building, machining, etc. This, however, does not mean that we are oblivious to the fact that such a design would not be the product of nature.

Once again, this does not need to be interpreted as a bad thing.

Further, I think it is important to stress that the character of the second skin concept was, I think, very much the product of finding a way to integrate man into his natural environment. Not seperate him from it, as you insinuated. Do we, after all, concentrate on the environment within the skin that we inhabit now? Of course not. A conventional work of architecture does precisely this, though, by erecting walls between us and the hostile environment. Perhaps now, you see where I was going with the notion of simply subjecting OURSELVES to design intervention. In this way, perhaps a biological architecture is capable of bluring the distinction of where the habitat ends and the inhabitant begins, where the metaphor of "organic architecture" fails.

I think it is a worthwile idea to contemplate.
 

prana

Cyburbian
Messages
565
Points
17
I ducked out of this conversation because I felt like I was leaning toward a different topic, but my curiosity has kept me reading.

Abhinav...It may be a language barrier, but I am having a very hard time understanding what you are trying to say. Sorry!

Micholmes... "The superskin would give a man an opportunity to spend his days in a real natural world... " I'll let you explain this further before dismissing it as one of the most ludicrous statements I have heard in a long time. You are creating a superskin that controls temperatures, shelters from weather and presumably shelters from air pollution and noise pollution??? And this is "natural"???

Kincaid...As far as recreating the garden, why not put your efforts towards that itself? The garden! It seems to me that creating a second skin that we "wear" and seperates us from each other and the real environment is far from recreating the garden. Especially, when the world as we know it in the year 2001, would presumably deteriorate as everyone focused on THEIR environment, within their own skin.

Wouldn't architect's efforts be put to better use to recreate the garden itself? Urbanization will never go away, but it certainly doesn't have to be what it is today. Green and sustainable architecture and communities that work toward a minimal impact on the truly natural environment and on each other should be immensely more important than it is.

Harmony with the environment should be a goal, not trying to recreate that environment. Man kind is the only organism that I know of that can not have a relationship with its environment that is in balance in regards to its needs and available resources.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Prana,

I suspect that Micholmes attatches a different meaning to the word "natural" than you do.I would also caution you not to conflate the notion of natural with the notions of "right" or "correct."

There is nothing good about the natural environment. Things die violently in nature every day. It is a very aggressive and violent condition. The life that exists in it is something with intrinsic value, and something which should be preserved. The condition in which life struggles is not. It has been tolerated because it has been the only existence availible to us. If a more civilized and benevolent condition were attainable, then is it wrong to strive for it? It cant be wrong to at least imagine the possibility of it. I might make the argument that, that is what architecture essentially is.

I think too many people seek the preservation of the environment with the precept of "preserving a balance" in mind. I think you will find this is a rather ill concieved and incomplete idea. Consider what balance is being sought here. If it is a matter of the inequality of ethical consideration man invests in himself versus other animals, then perhaps the solution would be to reintegrate himself into the food chain. Perhaps he might consider abstaining from reckless breeding and consumerist lifestyle. The "balance" I think is being considered here, would necessitate the abandonment of civilization. Dont misunderstand. I think the concept of preservation of the natural environment is based upon the most noble sentiment possible. It is a matter of consideration beyond ones self; and I agree that precisely that consideration should be made in the process of any design project. However, I think any serious reflection upon the idea of "preservation" requires us to consider what it is we are trying to preserve. The life or the condition?

Let me ask you this: What would the implications be if a designer (such as one of us) had the technological means and expertise to subject the environment to design intervention? What if I could redesign the environment to be hospitable to the wildlife?
 

Joshua

Member
Messages
23
Points
2
In my MArch program, a professor offered a seminar called 'The Nature of Nature'. In it we discussed...well, Nature and our relation to it. This class got everyone so fired up to condemn all that was 'good' and 'bad' around them as 'un-natural'. This reminded me of how many of my fellow environmental students in undergrad fervently extolled the evils of offshore drilling(in their front yard) and the Gulf War on their way up to denuded forest in their SUV's to go skiing. From these ironies I came to some conclusions:

1. Preservation, done for its own sake, contradicts the environmental precept of dynamic interconnection. The problem arises when well intentioned folks focus so hard on 'saving' one aspect of nature in the face of our behavioral dysfunction with Nature. Ultimately, the dynamic context moves beyond the 'saved' piece of earth's ability to be supported and nurtured by it, because the subsequent context is still permeated with dysfunctional relations.

2. We are still cursed by the infamous passage: "have dominion over...". Even the most pious environmentalist feels that we are the stewards of nature, and must protect it from ourselves. This impulse has its good results, but it again is a separation from how Nature works, since it fears anything that is not proven to be beneficial to the ideal homeostasis or 'balance'. Now, first of all, who is qualified to define this state and secondly this is a classic codependant and thus dysfunctional scenario. Growth is stifled by the fear of loss. Once the fear is faced, we can grow, albeit dynamically, with Nature.

So what now? Well, these discussions into 'scary stuff' are a good start. They are a discussion into the unknown, maybe even unknown to Nature herself. But I secretly believe she had this in mind all along. I like the word, co-evolution, and the relatively young idea of symbiosis. Maybe nature took a risk by giving us a cerebral cortex, but this is where we refine and hone all our connections. And this brings us full circle to Kincaid, ABCang, prAna's and everyone else's basic desire.

This desire, in my estimation, is to connect and better understand not just human potential or even Nature's potential, but our collective potential...infinite potential. Architectural skins, feeling buildings and the myriad of references provided by Kincaid are all examples of new interfaces, new ways and tools to understand and interact with 'The Other'. There is no bad nor good, only connection and disconnection.

How can we plug in to 'the other' and see?...
 

Micholmes

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Prana,

thanks for your words, that threw a bit different light on the thing.
To answer your worry about "Natural":

It is always a problem of interpretation, as Kincaid has said.

You said that today everyone takes care of his own inner environment, which is in disharmony with the outer space. I agree.

Natural, in my view, is something what I feel as harmonious. Harmonious as the state where none (living) element suffers. Man was born somehow weakened and somehow advanced. Today, when more and more people want to be independent and get the most of their terrestrial lives, it is impossible to achieve harmony using today technology. It is like a moving train, and there are some tracks ahead, which lead to disaster, and some which promise a harmony. Our task is to patiently search and show the ways to harmony between mankind and Earth.

My vision of superskin is a sketch. I want to show what is at the far end of one way (End? Of course, relatively..). This way leads through knowing the principles, which are hidden in nature, and using them in a new way - to fulfill our needs.

For example building a house on the basics of these principles, developing clever facades and roofs. In the design there should be contained not only these technological (or biological?) information, but certainly the socio-psychological , cultural and other aspects. The technology should always be an instrument. It may give the creators new possibilities, but not rule their minds.

When talking about superskin, we should re-value many things. A human, wearing a superskin, would not be a man as we know him/her. Was a human the same 5000 years ago? I think not. Not mentally. Some centuries in future, human will be different. Environment will be different. I hope that the relation between human and outer world will be harmonious one time.

Today it is not, and even if some people don't like the world "global", I think we are getting global. Global society has minuses and pluses and all I can do is to evolve pluses and avoid minuses. I think there is no way back to self-sufficient and harmonious (but separated) communities. Once we tasted freedom, the most of us cant live other way. It is a form of life, our Earth with mankind on it. And every life evolves. Dynamic or unpredictable evolution is such interconnected with life that trying to conserve some state of things is against life.

That's why I give human the right to change the environment, BUT in harmony with it. Doesn't forest change the environment, when it spreads? Where the grass and flowers were growing, twenty years later we find the trees. Yes, spreading trees changed the environment, and does it mean disharmony? I think not. Trees created new environment, and there is much space left where they can grow, but grass and flowers can..

You may reply, that in many cases the natural competition between species is crude and leads to extinction of weaker ones. Yes, it is like that. If we stand out our meaning of harmony, where every species is original and mustn't extinct, we must know much about nature before we try to change something.

Unfortunately, many changes made till today were short-sighted.

It is good to show mistakes of our civilization to everybody. People then begin thinking upon that.

And it is good to show how nature-and-human-friendly buildings are interesting.

I look forward to building my first biohouse.
 

HENG whookiat

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Hi, this would be my first posting, so i'll keep it short and nice. Philip wrote to me recently about this group, and i'm glad to hear about this project. The justifications are obvious, and has been reiterated umpteen times. Something that i would like to add in at this moment is that something concrete towards the realisation of this project, is also to look at the human genome project. In other words DNA coding. I've always considered the human body to be an ensemble of many micro machines. I attended a conference recently on studies on these micro machines. And with regards to an earlier argument about how the city and all the human environment is our natural environment. I agree, the problem is the environment it self, but rather what we build within. That is, as an end user, it is very difficult to imagine the amount of pollution that is required to have one product. Take paper for example, how does it become white? bleaching.

hence biopaper, which uses nature friendly bleach and all that.

Back to my initial blahblah. So technically, the current fashion of AI researchers of going into micro machines like nano machines would be a good start, and the DNA coding study would be a good guide as to how the programming will go. And at the of the day, how is the habitat suppose to evolve. Nature might not exactly be the best example, given that trees were not built by the living things that live within. They were appropriated in a certain way after.

I look forward to perhaps using this structure that seems to be forming up as a platform for concrete research.
 

lucky laduke

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
HI,everyone,i have been reading this as it evolved and i must say some things.Firstly i realize that this is so far only an exercise but i wonder if you all have really thought about what it means to bring a new life into this world.anything alive will get sick,will grow old,will die.what would you feed it,where would it get rid of its wastes? can you imagine how much feces it would make?you must keep it clean or it will get sick.will you se ll it or put it out for adoption?would you sell to just anyone,what if they were cruel to it.??
 

lucky laduke

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Man has conquered and enslaved and exploited the
environment and now you want to become a parasite?
I remember once having a discussion about veganis
m with a fella and he said something about"well yo
u kill veggies to eat don^t you?"and of course i
pointed out that veggies can not suffer because
they have no nervous system and do not feel pain.
it would be a cruel god indeed who made a creature
who bleeds and feels pain without giving it the
means to run away or defend itself,don^t you think
?would your creature have nipples maybe?wakeup.
 

Micholmes

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
I cant leave without saying a word:

At first - about vegetarianism:

Man has evolved somewhere in Africa, and his constitution was affected by environment. I know there are many studies, why we dont have fur like other mammals, and what food is natural to us.

What I think is important, is to realize that we as a succesful species expanded even to areas with different climate and vegetaion. That, said in a shortcut, has lead man to eat not only plants, but also animals. Killing animals and wearing their fur was the only way to survive in colder climate and to supplement nutrition of plants (ice age..). There are many reasons why we eat meat today, and I think most of them are historical.

Today we can distribute nutritious food from plants whole over the world. That is why I agree with lucky laduke in point of vegetarianism.

Second:
What do you wear in winter? Hempen jacket? I have not seen any in a shop. I wear microfibre jacket. It is a great invention, I think. But it is produced from petroleum, and is not recyclable yet. The idea of microfibre is, of course, very old. We can say it is comparable to fur. Fur is nature's great invention, so why to brood over
some plant-alternatives? And here we are : Imagine that somebody would started producing fur-like microfibre, which would grow in some sort of nutritious solution, and after some years wearing it could be easily recycled, or decomposed by natural processes (like fur). If somebody did it, I would be lucky to wear such jacket.
No animals would need to die for it's fur.
No petroleum would need to be drawn out of mother Earth.

Third:
I personally refuse the idea of creating some new living creature. We are not gods.
But if we are beginning to see into nature's kitchen, is it wrong to borrow some recipes?
Is it better to produce things "ecologicaly", but still from petroleum and coal?
Or should we try other ways?
I mean those little steps - inventing new materials (biology + chemistry + physics), not new organisms. And of course imitating nature's structures (arhitecture + design + civil enginering).

Micholmes
 

lucky laduke

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
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
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Hello.

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.

Laduke,

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.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
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.
 

lucky laduke

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
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
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
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?
 

lufred

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
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...
 

lucky laduke

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
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.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Sigh.

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.
 

prana

Cyburbian
Messages
565
Points
17
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.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
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?
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
Lufred,

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.
 

a_lee_anne

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
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
 

kedakai

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
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.
 

kincaid

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
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
>

Kincaid
(Philip Durkin)
 
Top