Biopolis

Tales of Urban Biology

Image by James Vaughan

We are inviting researchers working on bio-related areas, writers, storytellers, and illustrators to help us imagine the future of biotechnology and biodesign in urban spaces.

Philosophers, urbanists, architects, engineers and environmentalists have questioned the positive qualities of city-living, as concerns over the impact of human-action on natural systems amount. Here, we aim to expand imaginaries around urban futures by looking at new discoveries of biotechnology, new expressions of biodesign, and new understandings of natural systems, expressed through fiction and artistic means.

Writers will be matched with scientists working in bio-related areas (plant biology, medical biology, synthetic biology, bio-robotics, etc) and will be commissioned to produce a short piece on the future of the smart city, while incorporating the science behind new developments in biology and biological design. The work will result in a book publication to be launched in Summer 2020.

Commitment from scientists:

  • Share aspects of their research with organisers (selected papers, slides, etc.)
  • Attend “match-making” dinner event. The event will be scheduled at the end of January 2020, according to participants’ availability. Dinner costs will be covered by the project.
  • Encourage matched writer to visit their lab at least once (Feb – Mar 2020).
  • Have at least one point of contact with writer to give feedback on the written piece (Mar-Apr 2020).
  • Submit bio and headshot for publication.

Scientists’ participation is voluntary.

Commitment from writers:

  • Attend “match-making” dinner event. The event will be scheduled at the end of January 2020, according to participants’ availability. Dinner costs will be covered by the project.
  • Produce at least 2 pieces of work in response to the call to reimagine the future of biological systems in the city with inspiration from the sciences. The written pieces should be max 4000-words long. At least one of the pieces will be selected for publication. The pieces should be completed by 5th May 2020.
  • Submit bio and headshot for publication.

Writers s (not employed by the University of Edinburgh) will receive a £300 commission fee for their work.

Please get in touch if you have any questions. The project is coordinated by Larissa Pschetz, Jane McKie and Elise Cachat, and is the result of a collaboration fund with the University of Sydney, Australia (with Phillip Gough, Leigh-Anne Hepburn and Martin Tomitsch).