You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘technology’ category.

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.


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”.


Look under “more info” for links to point cloud animation.


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.


“How should a new environment be programmed? It all happened so slowly then, that most people failed to realize that anything had happened at all.”

If a new technology were to reprogram how people lived, how long would it take, and how many generations would pass before memories of the old way went away?

Perhaps there would always remain some small notion of the past, a glitch in the human brain that could become a way out…


In Aitken’s dystopic landscape, the last surviving man wanders through an ambiguous landscape, communicating directly with the rhythms produced by the electricity that powers the machines. Similar to what we’ve been talking about as direct back and forth communication between man and technology, but requiring no futuristic setting.