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The EU HQ project is a seed for reconstituting the politics and economy of matter in Berlin.  It reinterprets the built environment and the rebuilt environment.


Bacillus pasteurii is a “microorganism, readily available in marshes and wetlands, [that] solidifies loose sand into sandstone.” Check out a BLDG BLOG post about a proposal for the Sahara desert here.

“The structure is made straight from the dunescape by flushing a particular bacteria through the loose sand… which causes a biological reaction whereby the sand turns into sandstone; the initial reactions are finished within 24 hours, though it would take about a week to saturate the sand enough to make the structure habitable. The project – a kind of bio-architectural test-landscape – would thus go from a balloon-like pneumatic structure filled with bacillus pasteurii, which would then be released into the sand and allowed to solidify the same into a permacultural architecture.”

The final result can also be imagined by observing Tafoni stone formations, even though in this case it’s erosion rather than aggregation that’s taking place. There’s some of this stone in Germany, actually.


Some inspiration from kokkugia

From the project Swarm Urbanism…

“Agency operates through two main processes within this proposal: firstly by using design agents to self-organise urban matter and secondly encoding intelligence into urban elements and topologies.”

“Agents within this system are not generic, instead there is an ecology of agent systems which interact, each set of agents programmed with their own desires and information.”

There are two key points here that they use to relate a swarm model to urban phenomena. First, the interaction between agents and their landscape. The agents have a series of behaviors, but they are also directly affected by information that is stored in the landscape, and the landscape itself is affected by the agents. This is the basic definition of an ecosystem.

Second, there is a hierarchy of agents, each performing their own task. In this model, there is a group of agents who aggregate matter, similar to the behavior of termites in building a colony. A second class of agents operates more like a slime mold, to build infrastructure by connecting certain locations in a minimal system.

I think both of these points are crucial when starting to think about how swarm models can be applied to think of the organization of a city.


“Since the purpose of this activity is to link food sources together and to transport nutrients around the creature, Atsushi Tero at Hokkaido University in Japan and his colleagues wondered if slime-mould transport networks bore any resemblance to human ones. As they report in Science, they built a template with 36 oat flakes (a favoured food source) placed to represent the locations of cities in the region around Tokyo. They put P. polycephalum on Tokyo itself, and watched it go. They found that many of the links the slime mould made bore a striking resemblance to Tokyo’s existing rail network.”

Pretty cool, but I’m kind of dissappointed that it modelled the existing network. One would hope that such biological models might suggest new potentials for infrastructure, rather than recreating existing ones.


Darpa is researching soft robots to be used to gain covert access to denied or hostile space during combat. The video above demonstrates just one example of such a chem-bot, which moves through fluctuating levels of air inside pockets of expandable rubber skin. Through this technology, the robot is able to go from a rigid to a fluid-like state and shift shape considerably to go through openings smaller than itself.

From Darpa:

“The program seeks to develop a ChemBot that can perform several operations in sequence:

  • Travel a distance;
  • Traverse an arbitrary-shaped opening much smaller than the largest characteristic dimension of the robot itself;
  • Reconstitute its size, shape, and functionality after traversing the opening;
  • Travel a distance; and
  • Perform a function or task using an embedded payload.”

Amazingly, it also looks very similar to Cronenberg’s conception of bio-technology in Existenz.

This is extremely relevant to our previous discussions about a technology that could repair damage after natural disasters and catastrophic events. Other than war scenarios, earthquake rescue operations is one of the more positive applications proposed for this technology.

As we discussed earlier, I think the real breakthrough in technology will not be based on developments of current technology, but on something that mimics biological systems. This could be how we start to imagine our system of “instant architecture”.


“Something shapeless grafted onto existing tissue, something that needs no vanishing point to justify itself but instead welcomes a quivering existence immersed in a real-time vibratory state, here and now. Tangled, intertwined, it seems to be a city, or rather a fragment of a city. Its inhabitants are immunized because they are both vectors and protectors of this complexity. The multiplicity of its interwoven experiences and forms is matched by the apparent simplicity of its mechanisms. The inhabitants draw sustenance from the present, with no time lag. The form of the territorial structure draws its sustenance directly from the present time. It is a zone of emancipation, produced so that we can keep the origins of its founding act eternally alive, so that we can always live with and re-experience that beginning. The public sphere is everywhere, like a pulsating organism driven by postulates that are mutually contradictory and nonetheless true. It belongs to the many, the multitude. The world is terrifying when it’s intelligible, when it clings to some semblance of predictability, when it seeks to preserve a false coherence. In I’ve heard about,” it is what is not there that defines it, that guarantees its readability, its social and territorial fragility and its indetermination.”

central nervous system for earth

HP invents a “Central Nervous System for Earth.” HP proposes sticking billions of sensors on everything in sight and boiling down the resulting flood of data into insights for making the world a better, greener place. But what sets HP apart from its rivals is its determination to create a smarter planet almost entirely within house, from sensors of its own design and manufacture to servers to software to the consultants who will tie it all together. And its first customer could not be less green: Shell Oil.

The main character and his wife both have a crippling fear death. The wife willingly and secretly becomes part of a psycho-pharmaceutical drug experiment – a new pill (Dylar) that was developed to remove or suppress a human’s fear of death. She believes the pill isn’t working, but while on the medication she becomes more discouraged and uncommunicative and has memory lapses.
If you no longer have a fear of death, you no longer feel innate thoughts of self-preservation that direct human behavior. So if you no longer feel the instinct to survive (directed by fear and pain), is the result depression, lack of motivation, suicide, dependence on another system/structure?
“It’s not a tablet in the old sense. It’s a drug delivery system. It doesn’t dissolve right away or release its ingredients right away.”
“I would think the controlled dosage is meant to eliminate the hit-or-miss effect of pills and capsules. The drug is delivered at specific rates for extended periods. You avoid the classic pattern of overdosage followed by underdosage… The system is efficient…It self-destructs.”