Stuart Candy is the “Sceptical Futuryst”, which is a superb resource of content, opinions, case studies and process. I’ve just begun to go through the site in detail as Stuart is soon to be in Toronto at OCAD University, which is really great news. Below is a great example of futures thinking and design fiction presenting concepts to encourage dialogue away from accepted “norms”.
It’s not only that permanence need not be assumed, but impermanence can actually be embraced.
The above quote is from Stuart explaining the core thesis that the team of collaborators to used to imagine a future capital city of Australia that moves around the country, engaging different communities and encouraging ecological stimulus that can diffuse through the region.
NOTE: Am struggling to embed the document – click here to read.
Decentralized and Distributed
In biomimicry, “decentralized and distributed” is a principle that plays out in many ways. Most recently I was in discussions around materials development that spoke of active feedback/response that would allow function to be integrated physically. Previous to the natural model the thinking had focused on centralized digital sensor to process to action models which were too complex.
The model above of distributed politics, raises a number of amazing discussions. In Toronto there are huge tensions currently over the mayor, with a strong divide between downtown and outer suburb residents. Many debates have re-arisen over the success or failure of the most recent amalgamation that was meant to transform Toronto into a united and efficient single community. Perhaps literal physical flexibility would break down some of these walls?
In America there are huge issues of right and left, but also tensions between the north and south. Could physical transition and engagement encourage interactions that break down these divides? What if Washington was capable of moving every 4 years?
Great case study of design futures / fiction – and an intriguing connection to biomimicry. Very intriguing discussion to add to the Urban Ecology explorations.
How can we make play spaces for scientists and “designers”?
Thanks to everyone who has been posting comments, the feedback and dialogue is incredibly rewarding, and gets the ideas bouncing back in different ways, which is fantastic.
Peter Neiwiarowski, friend and Director of the Integrated Bioscience program at University of Akron, has been posting some particularly good feedback that has me thinking. In a recent comment he said:
I like to imagine that maybe the next great biological insight in some system will come from a designer doing biomimicry, or maybe a great design insight will come from a biologist doing biomimicry.
I love this goal, how might we make this happen?
Science fiction may be getting closer to reality in the future of materials.
The WYSS Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard is an interdisciplinary “alliance” between the internally diverse schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences, as well as a broad array of Universities and Research Centres. Their focus is the development of new materials using the deep, micro scale principles of self assembling natural materials, and the vision of their research is pretty wild.
The deceptively simple mission statement of the WYSS Institute reveals incredible goals:
The Wyss Institute aims to discover the engineering principles that Nature uses to build living things, and harnesses these insights to create biologically inspired materials and devices that will revolutionize healthcare and create a more sustainable world… Understanding of how living systems build, recycle, and control is also guiding efforts focused on development of entirely new approaches for constructing buildings, converting energy, controlling manufacturing, and improving our environment.
The self assembled future
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Architecture!
I stumbled upon this fantastic article in the New York Times from all the way back in 2005. It covers a comic book: “The Manhattan Guardian” in which prolific author Grant Morrison weaves together the fantasy and reality of New York into a new DC comic city, “Cinderella City”.
Much of the Cinderella City looks like the New York of today: grimy subway stations, soaring buildings, busy street scenes. But Grant Morrison, … also laced it with architectural marvels that were proposed but never actually constructed.
I love the story of Grant Morrison reading through architectural literature hunting for the grandest examples of unrealized visions for New York. Included is a hotel Antonio Gaudi designed in 1903, along with the mega complex Ellis Island Key, a domed superstructure dreamt up by Frank Lloyd Wright before he passed away.
Comic books are amazing for their ability to explore alternate realities. While most of those realities are populated with incredible physical specimens with dubious fashion sense, the deep principle is the exploration of worlds where anything is possible. It’s a landscape that can be addictive.
Mr. Morrison, who lives in Glasgow, said by embellishing on the existing New York he was tapping into his favorite comic book power: the ability to create alternative realities. “Things as they are have never really been enough for me,” he said.