From a dead husk to a living home

During the midterm presentation, we introduced the core of our design and our vision. We discussed our particular approach: tackling the problem by targeting the individual; in order to permeate the idea of a sustainable ecosystem into people’s psyche.

These past few weeks have been dedicated to expanding the concepts surrounding the core of our idea, integrating feedback and chiseling the project with additional considerations. My main contribution towards the project is oriented around identifying, defining and proposing solutions to these additional reflections.

 

The Lowline project [1] provided clues about how to deal with the practical considerations of a project that would be partially underground.

I soon became evident that there is a need to contextualise the project into a powerful narrative. Any design project should be delivered together with an appealing fiction, but for an initiative whose aim is to reach and compel people, this need is exacerbated. We envisioned this project as an initiative, a devote movement with the clear objective of examining gray, dead buildings and turning them into green and living. In such a way, the fiction could be built around a resurrectionist team, with the solid purpose of bringing life back into our everyday environment.

I often found that the project progresses only through the tensions and interactions between the team members and their different (and frequently colliding) perspectives. Playing the role of the pragmatic, ‘down to earth’ member of the team, a major worry is how to combine the concepts of radicalism and novelty with the simplicity and practical benefits that could make the initiative widespread and accepted. A crucial consideration turned out to involve examining the user-device relationship and experience. we soon realised that the most effective context for this idea to materialise is that of a community. As an inert building becomes a living organism, its inhabitants grow from a fortuitous group of people to a collaborating entity. An appealing metaphor lies within the concept of a tribal community, which anthropologist Stephen Corry defines as “largely self-sufficient, and clearly different from the mainstream and dominant society”2. This concept shows a strong synergy with our ideas.

Finally, we reflected on some of the concepts absorbed throughout the course. How designing with nature can have different understandings. The possibility of using nature as a raw material against using nature as a source of inspiration to shape our designs. Here is were we found the ideal way of representing our bioreactor, which is our main device. If a building is to become a living organism, then the bioreactor would become its digestive system, to provide nourishment and nutrients. Just as a bovine digestive tract is composed of four stomachs, each with its own environment and specific function; our bioreactor is composed of different modules, each with its own environment and specific function.

 

We find inspiration in nature to create and explain our design

 

For our last weeks of work, our focus will go into perfectly integrating the heart of our design (the bioreactor and mycorrhizal network) with all these additional considerations (what is our fiction, how does our idea influence its surrounding environment) to create an appealing, well-constructed narrative.

If the bioreactor is the heart of our design, the mycorrhizal networks compose the veins and arteries. It can transport nutrients effectively to distant plants [3].

 

 

References:

1-Corry, S., 2011. Tribal Peoples for Tomorrow’s World. 1st ed. Freeman Press.

2-The Lowline. 2018. Project – The Lowline. [ONLINE] Available at: http://thelowline.org/about/project/. [Accessed 25 March 2018].

3-Simard, S.W. (2012). “Mycorrhizal networks: Mechanisms, ecology and modeling”. Fungal Biology Review26: 39–60.