Architecture is a slippery beast! A chimera drenched in gasoline. No use in even trying to nail it down. You’d sooner drive a stake through the heart of every man, woman and child!
It’s a matter of life you see…
So, that being the case, why limit our understanding of life/architecture to just people? Plants are alive too, no? Not just alive, but alive out of necessity! Where else will you turn to get your food, oxygen, medicine, timber, etcetera, etc?
Lets say we’re all gone tomorrow. Those anthropologists will have one hell of a time making sense of why we left everything that kept us alive outside our homes. Imagine the confusion when they see all those buildings that vaguely resemble that thing we used to call nature. What’s this, a civilization of secret admirers?
Screw the foreplay! Lets have architecture stop trying to be like nature, and be nature! At the very least lets have a thesis project that does it. Show those anthropologists that yes, we did in fact think about it.
This is a vivarium apartment dwelling located squarely in midst of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The architecture is not built; it is grown. Using botanical hybridization techniques in conjunction with speculative advances in biotechnology, this thesis explores the development of specific plant species into a cohesive and working architecture.
Being Nature is an investigation into the cultivation of specific plant species for the growth and re-articulation of cohesive architectural elements.
Beginning on the premise that architecture is an active reflection of life, this thesis seeks realign man’s existence relative to nature by making an architecture that addresses the concerns of not just humans, but also, as acting life support systems, non-humans.
In the case of non-human plant life I have found that the best way for architecture to go about this is to have the plants be the architecture.
This is made possible by the use of traditional botanical tree shaping techniques in conjunction with speculative advances in hybridizing biotechnology.
In the place of hyper-realistic methods of representation, the drawings in this project are an abstract representation of nature in reference to the real thing, similar to the drawings of Albertus Seba
This project is a vivarium dwelling that maintains its own tropical climactic conditions within the building envelope, independent of the surrounding environment.
Located squarely in the midst of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it is expected that over time the project will proliferate throughout the neighborhood as a new building species.
The main driver for the project is eight different species of plants selected for their architectural potential, the most prominent of which being Ficus Benghalensis, also known as the Strangler Fig. Found in nature, it begins life growing in the canopies of other trees, sending self-grafting roots downwards to extract nutrients from the soil, simultaneously entangling and engulfing its host structure.
Anticipating this behavior, a scaffolding system is designed to guide the growth of the roots, producing an architecture that lies somewhere between the artificial intentions of the architect and the natural growth of the plant life.
It’s a silly building. The first time you walked right by it without notice. Deemed it to be an abandoned overgrown lot with unruly trees. It only occurred to you moments later how odd those trees really were. Do they even grow in this part of the world?
Years ago it looked like they were going to build something on that lot (whoever “they” are). There was some sort of scaffolding going up. But then that’s all that came of it. Scaffolding. Hardly any notice went to the seedlings perched at the very top. How many people really knew that such small things could grow to be such large viscous monsters?
Who would have guessed that years later it would be the place you called home? Now you walk down the sidewalk and turn into that deep jungle.
The stairs were the first thing that took some getting used to. Awkward at first, but no different than regular stairs once you remembered which foot to start on.
The doors, now that was different. What was that first feeling. Awe? How could such things exist? Seemingly just a large array of tightly packed leaves, but when touched, they gently sway inward to allow passage. Even more amazing, the front door detects a chemical signature to ensure only rightful occupants may enter.
Now the inside. It’s something else entirely. Piranesi would have found it exciting. For first time visitors, the experience is truly perplexing. The temperature and humidity have changed to something resembling a tropical vacation. The air smells cleaner. It feels as if the building is breathing. The forest has consumed you.
The floor is soft. Upon closer inspection you find it is the fuzzy fresh familiar feel of moss. The walls. They are covered in vines, closer to the familiar wall coverings you’ve seen on dying building ruins. Not like the outside. The leaves on the exterior seem unnatural by contrast, overlapping and impenetrable, as if bound by an invisible glue.
Moving up through the forest, there is confusion. Paths that lead to rooms not your own. Large spaces each seemingly assigned for a particular type of leisure. One for reading. One for electronic media. All new to you back then, but so familiar now.
At last you reach your room, gently open your peculiar leafy door and, exhausted from the long days work, proceed to pass out completely on your cotton puff bed.