Let's continue for at least another day the “future” thread that started on Friday by looking at some of the projects revolving around innovative visions for the city of Maribor as presented by the Slovenian Pavilion at the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale.
The 100 projects presented at the Pavilion - including ideas from visionary international institutions, architectural firms and students - are gathered under the theme "100Y(ear)C(ity)" and focus on how Maribor (European Capital of Culture 2012) will look in 100 years' time and how the quality of living will change and improve in the future.
All the designs included take into consideration historical factors and political changes, but they are also propelled into the future and look at how tehnological developments in transport, energy and water supply will radically alter the landscape, creating new contrasts between functionality and dis-functionality or utopias and dystopias - themes and issues that so far we only envisaged in sci-fi films, from Metropolis to Blade Runner, from the Fifth Element to Brazil - and will eventually lead to new diversifications between quarters, regions, municipalities and subcultures as well (and for those of you who are just into fashion and may think this issue does not have any direct consequences on fashion, sit and ponder on how new environments and urban/trans-urban futures will alter our exterior look...).
These projects may still be at laboratory level, but they are very intriguing since they hint at radical developments in science, human-computer interfaces, design and engineered systems that will eventually reshape the landscape surrounding us and have direct impact also on human relationships. So let's have a look at some of them.
A3 - Inspired by his studies in biodigital architecture, lecturer, researcher and engineer Alessio Erioli developed three projects for models that fit in and change the configuration of the area in which they are built, focusing on how it will be possible to connect people through artificial intelligence, technology and organisms and to create buildings that can host different functions and can produce new shapes to adapt to future needs.
Maribor 2112ai - The Dessau Institute of Architecture's plans for a future Maribor are based on urban geometry and urban flexibility and on connecting different architectural levels, generating a fibrous skyline capable of harnessing the local environmental pressure, sustaining the life of the city, subdividing it onto various aggregated conditions or creating a sort of spinning organism that continuously weaves fibres that bond human beings and architecture.
Alessi Mutants - Architecture can be interpreted as a comprehensive discipline that also includes objects that transform themselves and the environment we live in. Moving from fluidity and from the theme of reshaping, Die Angewandte Urban Strategies presented three micro architecure projects, coming up with a series of objects that can transform into a series of interconnected elements, including a spoon that can create a utilitarian table landscape, objects that employ less material and that can form superior compounds, and a single cell that, based on the comparative biological evolution of molecular forms, transforms and generates a variation of typologies.
Productive Surfaces – (A) Biotic Architectures II - The KTH School of Architecture Performative Design Studio explores the possibilities offered by productive surfaces, investigating urban agriculture intended as diverse compounds of nested volumes, mass and void, in which a multiplicty of aggregates allows the development of different social, architectural, biotic and abiotic qualities.
Architectural Mutations: Cipher Systems - This project presents visionary scenarios for a futuristic city based on micro and macro patterns. The first scenario, the Wine Walk, aims at connecting existing and future nodes related to wine and at creating a path that transforms the city, making the production of wine visible; the second scenario focuses on a group of swarm robots that reinforce sets of building at important locations, swarm intelligence is also used in this scenario on master plan levels. The third and last scenario looks instead at the possibility of populating the river with machines that can use hydropower as a renewable energy source.
Maribor Manifold - Karl Chu, founding director of the Institute for Genetic Architecture at the GSAPP and professor at the Pratt Institute, based this project on two figures of spatial organisation, the labyrinth and the dynamical logic of flow. The city form of Maribor is therefore designed with the aim of allowing for the multi-layered interfusion of both convergent and divergent programs, embodying and expressing the city as a complex organism.
Nano Transit City - According to Tom Kovac at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, in 100 years' time Maribor will be equipped with solar, wind and water collection systems. Science and technology will help the city turning into a progressive and sustainable place while integrated nano technology will allow the architecture to sustain and rapidly adapt to new environmental changes.
Formfield 4: The Speculative Campus Project - Vivian Mitsogianni and her team at the RMIT University Scool of Architecture and Design were inspired in their work for the Biennale by a William Gibson quote that says “the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed”. They therefore planned a campus for a futuristic university conceived as a place where community can be engaged at different levels and where experimentation can be explored in a technologically advanced open learning environment in which spaces are hybridised to make sure that the university has strong relationships with the city outside it.
Volatile Tectonics - This project developed by Kokkugia and the RMIT University School of Architecture and Design draws from the logic of swarm intelligence systems and how they operate through algorithms. Projects relate to the Maribor Museum and to the local university, structures based on a non-linear methodology in which agent-based geometry interacts to generate a tectonic self-organisation. In some cases the structural skin of these buildings is particularly complex and intricate since it evolves from a stigmergic multi-agent design approach.
Hexactinellus Euplectellidae - Developed by the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) this plan with a rather complex Latin name is actually inspired by an imaginary material – the Hexactinellus Euplectellidae – a synthetic, semi-organic material supposed to revolutionise all aspects of the built environment since it can capture solar energy and heat and even grow in programmable patterns. As a consequence, new shapes and forms emerge responding to the performance and behaviour of the material.
Maribor's Land of Gables - While some of the projects for Maribor are based on structure, this specific one focuses on a colour saturated roof scape for the city. According to this project, the roofs of the new buildings located in the current industrial area of the city are covered by a layer of coloured ceramic tiles - each tile is a pixel, completing a geological satellite image of the existing Maribor landscape.
K/Cloud - New developments in digital design helped the studio behind the K/Cloud project to conceive an imaginary artificial cloud employed to cover a stadium. The cloud, made using a digital fabricated solution for an expandable urban canopy system, can be varied in design and shape.
Figures in a Sack - This project, conceived as an urban marketplace and event centre for the City of Maribor, began with the introduction of hard crystalline figures into a loose outer sack. According to the Southern California Institute of Architecture's Tom Wiscombe the process resembled that one seen in the STRP Mutant series by Dutch artist Bart Hess. The sack was indeed tightened over the figures so that the points and the edges began to produce inflections. The sack was used as a mould, inside it an interior liner surface was introduced filling the void between the figures and the sack. As the sack was removed, the result was a set of components separated by figural joints forming a whole.
Space Train Station, A New Layer of City - The founder of design company Felix Rene Van Meeuwen designed one of the most futuristic projects included in the Slovenian Pavilion, based on a call for a design proposal of a gateway to the space colony and around the themes of transport, mobility and travel. The new gateway will form a new multi-modal transport hub connecting Maribor to space and to the rest of the world. The project includes a space train station, a large open source space formed by a shelter represented by an expansive timber pergola (inspired by Bruce Mau's Massive Change and Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell) and a grid system that functions as infrastructure for a future transportation and water cycle system.
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MariBIOr - Veronika Valk and Toomas Tammis at the Estonian Academy of Arts mixed architecture and biology in their innovative vision for a futuristic Maribor. The duo conceived a bridge-like system based on a construction method borrowed from a biological process of bone healing and its regular reshaping in time. Synthetic bacteria construct and deconstruct the structure when needed and in this way the Maribor of the future becomes a complex living organism charactised by flexibility and adaptability.
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