Body, Room, Home, City, or World… Everything is Nature.
It ́s time to use our imagination, to invent and to change; it’s time to direct ourselves, our environments, and our behaviour into a world of circularity. A world where we not only make nature but live like nature. In short: a world determined by biology.
Let’s finally enter the age of biology. Let’s construct Biotopia.


Syllabus

“From a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural…”
“Biology enables, culture forbids”
Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari.

 


Credits: The Why Factory & The Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague, 2023

ACT

In 1969, three years before the Club of Rome published their “Limits of Growth”, whose dire predictions startled audiences globally, Ian McHarg had revived in his book “Design with Nature” the hope for a better world, by means of establishing a healthier relationship between humans and nature. In 1973, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm coined the term biophilia in his book “The Anatomy of Human Destructivenes”, and in 1984 biologist Edward O. Wilson explored the biophilia hypothesis in his work “Biophilia”
Was this the beginning of an age of biology? Unfortunately, no: it is appalling to witness how more than 50 years of scientific, technical, or philosophical progress of our civilization could not put an end to the belief in endless growth which led to the ‘polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanised, explosion-threatened world that is disintegrating and disappearing before our eyes’.
We grow; we consume more; we waste more… Until when? Until resources are fully depleted? Until fresh water, soil or energy come to an end?…The current state of seemingly immediate apocalypse requires action before it is too late. We can only survive on this planet if we turn Earth into a place where humans can sustainably cohabit with nature: respecting the limits, without waste, in a fully biodegradable, adaptable, recyclable, clean and energy neutral environment. It’s time to design with, for or as nature (no matter the preposition we want to use). It ́s time to use our imagination, to invent and to change; it’s time to direct ourselves, our environments, and our behaviour into a world of circularity. A world where we not only make nature but live like nature. In short: a world determined by biology.
Let’s finally enter the age of biology. Let’s construct Biotopia.

BIOCAPACITY

According to some projections, humanity will reach 12 billion beings shortly. What does a world inhabited by 12 billion humans and many more living organisms need? What is the true biocapacity of the planet? Can humans respect the biological resources that Earth can regenerate and stick to biocapacity? How can natural sciences, automation, nanomaterials, robotics, biotechnology, or biomimicry contribute to establishing new relationships amongst those 12 billion humans and all other living organisms?

BIOINVENTIONS

What can we innovate, technically and spatially, to curb excess?
Let’s invent.
At present, technology provides us with solutions towards mitigating our excesses, but they miss the biological component. We need thus more biobased inventions: the bioinventions. Let’s dream of them and fantasise their benefits. Can we make an extensive list of inventions leading to the achievement of Biotopia?

BIOMATTER

Can we imagine that these inventions become a new material or ecological complex? Can we  imagine a material that gives light and generates energy; a substance that filters and provides with fresh water; a substratum that houses plants and animals; a fabric that grows and shrinks instantly; a medium that recycles, serves as soil, produces food, and moves, that loosens itself and that can fly and transport us? This material-or better said- a biomatter, could even form clouds for shading …
The list of properties can go on. Just dare to dream.

THE SPONGE

Picture yourself in that world, in a true biological city, a global sponge, sometimes thick, sometimes thin, that mitigates climate change. Such a sponge is a three-dimensional new Earth Crust made from that biomatter. The biomatter shapes our interiors, our home, our city and -finally- our world. The Sponge spans across borders. It’s a substance that is porous for access, openness, andviews. Amid global warming, it cools down the planet instead of warming it up, and consists of self-growing, self-evaluating and self-learning bio-techniques that enable it to adapt over time.

For centuries, design focused on objects with single meanings: everything was architecture.
More recently, we zoomed out to look for new meanings, at every scale, from the very small to the very large: everything was urbanism.
Latterly, design has finally started to -timidly- understand the meaning of ‘green’: everything was landscape.
Today -more than ever- everything is Nature.
Welcome to the era of biology.


Credits: The Why Factory & The Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague, 2023

Learning Objectives

At course completion the student will:

  • be familiar with operating at the intersection of nature, urban design & architecture
  • be able to produce data related to the impact of reimagining de city of the future through the lens of nature, and their corresponding visualisations
  • acknowledge the importance and the necessity of the dissemination of design ideas amongst broader audiences
  • be capable of working together with a large team in the production of a collective research. Collective research is at the core of the Why Factory’s methodology. Students will be encouraged to work together and to deliver one single collective presentation at the end of the workshop.
  • The Why Factory workshops are meant to be open-ended explorations. Students will learn to change course in a flexible manner during the workshop period, as new discoveries are made.

Faculty


Projects from this course

BIOMATTER

LIFE IN A BIOTOPIAN WORLD BIOMATTER IS … GROWTH TYPE: NEWTONIAN GEOMETRY: SPHERES FORCE: GROWTH SIMULATION LIFE IN BIOMATTER WATER BODIES SHELTER FOR ANIMALS NOURISHMENT