Cambridge University Library has announced a public appeal for help in locating two missing notebooks which document some of Charles Darwin's most seminal concepts, including his 1837 'Tree of Life' sketch (pictured above). Once thought misplaced, an exhaustive search of the library has led the curators to sadly conclude the notebooks have, most likely, been stolen. Now registered on the national Art Loss Register for missing cultural artefacts, these invaluable works have also been added to Pysche - Interpol's database for stolen artworks. The public appeal was launched today to coincide with 'Evolution Day', which recognises the anniversary of Darwin's publication of On Origin of Species in November 24th 1859.
In the words of Dr. Jessica Gardener, University Librarian and Director of Library Services, "Someone, somewhere, may have knowledge or insight that can help us return these notebooks to their proper place at the heart of the UK's cultural and scientific heritage". Anyone with any information that may help find Darwin's missing notebooks are urged to contact manuscript appeal (@) lib.cam.ac.uk or to contact www.cambs.police.uk/report reference number 35/71468/20 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Read more about the notebooks and the appeal here.
In advance of the launch of a new SUEZ group sponsored insights report coauthored by Dr. David Greenfield and myself, join us for "The Ocean Pollutant You've Never Heard Of - the invisible pollutant" webinar.
Focussing on the invisible pollution that comes from tyre wear and road surface run-off, this webinar will explore the scale and nature of the problem, together with the recent and emerging innovations, inventions, and approaches that may help to mitigate it in the years ahead.
Joining Dr. Greenfield and I on the panel will be session chair, Dr. Adam Reed - External Affairs Director, SUEZ UK, together with Stuart Hayward-Higham - Technical Director, SUEZ UK, and award-winning young design innovator and Founder and CEO of Matter, Adam Root.
We'll be discussing issues including how tyre rubber reaches the oceans; the known scale and complexity of the problem; new and near-future tyre design, materials, and engineering; and how new approaches in transport infrastructure design and management, including smart devices and systems, together with changes in driving and consumer behaviour may impact on sectors including waste management and recycling, and manufacturing. Those that can't attend the webinar, but that would like to view a recording can do so on request.
About SUEZ group in their own words...
"We’ve been experts in water and waste management for 160 years. We operate on 5 continents, on which SUEZ harnesses all its desire for innovation to achieve a smart and sustainable management of resources throughout the world. Our company works with its customers to restore and conserve the planet's fundamental elements that are water, air and soil."
Register for a place here.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of once-again joining Prof. Claudia Pasquero and Maria Kuptsova, leaders of the Synthetic Landscape Lab at the Faculty of Architecture at University of Innsbruck, as one of the jury assessing its final diploma defences. The unit, which is focused on the application of recent scientific findings in microbiology and biotechnology to problems impacting real-world landscapes worldwide, attracts an international cohort of students, and works with field-leaders from across both academia and industry. Joining Claudia, Maria, and I for the defensio were examiner, ecoLogicStudio cofounder Dr. Marco Poletto, and transnational urban research network Spin Unit cofounder and Terreform, New York principal researcher Damiano Cerrone, and architect and researcher Annarita Papeschi. Notable projects included 'Barranco: Topographical Morphologies' (pictured above and below) by Synthetic Landscape Lab student Patrik Kuhelmann. Presenting a novel solution to water pollution, the concept is reminiscent of historic Asian hydrological systems, harnessing the city's topography in the water treatment process.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of discussing issues including nature in lockdown, Earth's firey future, solar storms, and more Earth meet Human systems issues past, present, and possible with Fakhar Raza in my second interview in the Scholars in the Spotlight podcast series, available to hear open access here.
A member of the society since its inauguration, last month I had the pleasure to share insights on my work and thoughts on the field with the Secretariat of the International Society of Bionic Engineering. Published in the Volume 9, Issue 2 of the society's member publication, those interested can read the interview here.
ISBE. "How do you see Bionics influencing business and industry in the future?
MS. Market leaders in industries such as manufacturing, utilities, transport, healthcare, defence, and ICT are typically aware that bionics is one of the research disciplines most-likely to produce effective means of making a measurable difference to addressing the issues that really count. Both the rate of bionics-led innovation, and with that, the caliber of the innovation produced, is highly variable across business and industry as a whole. Hence, the outlook for bionics within business and industry is a mixed one. More generally, tomorrow, as today, current developments strongly suggest that bionics will continue to grow in influence and impact in the heavier and more technical industries – essentially all those under-pinned by expertise in the STEM fields."
A collaborative initiative launched by the International Design Awards [IDAs] and the European Product Design Awards [ePDAs], the Covid-19 Design Innovation Grant was created to encourage the global design community to utilise its talents and skills the make a positive impact in tackling the problems the pandemic presents. Open to both professional and amateur designers and architects worldwide, its criteria was that all entries must be original and have met technical standards approved by a qualified medical professional or team.
As a long-standing member of the IDA jury, I had the pleasure of selecting the winning entrant in the category for Architecture and Interior Design, for which the brief was to design a “simple, practical, innovative solution for an in-home isolation pod that would allow those with Covid-19 symptoms and others to safely co-habit without transmitting the virus”. A category populated by wide-ranging concepts submitted from both architects and designers, and both individuals and collectives, the overall standard was a testament to the creativity within these professions. Awarded a grant of $5,000 to develop her concept ‘Safe Shed’, category-winner, Denver-based architect Sarah Goldblatt, impressed judges with her exceptionally well-researched entry, which integrated many features known to improve the survival rates of they that contract the virus, such as an adjustable sleeping platform that allows for the positional changes currently recommended by the medical community to improve an occupant’s oxygenation. Additional features of her Safe Shed concept include a safe food and medicine delivery system; connectivity to hospital or clinic monitoring; integration of UV lights and power; an integral fan/duct which creates a negative pressure system to remove dangerous aerosolized particles; natural light infiltration; and sound attenuation. Thinking beyond the pandemic, Goldblatt designed the isolation unit so that it could easily be disassembled when no longer required, thereon adapted to become a playhouse, in-home office, or guest space. Alternatively, the scalable unit could be used in an external capacity as a homeless shelter to help prevent infection among shelter residents.
Notable entries to the Architecture and Interior Design category included CO-habitat Independent Diving-Bell, pictured below, which was submitted by Taiwanese guerrilla design team 2146T. Their name derived from the fact that they all entered mandatory military service at the same time in class 2146, the CYCU architecture school graduates, who have worked closely together for over a decade, work across fields including film making, fine arts, product design, architecture, and branding and graphic design. Mobilising to offer novel solutions to challenges including human rights and environmental protection, the team work across continents, collaborating with international partners to explore alternative ways of living. Having all experienced 14-days of self-quarantine period, varying from residing in a residential home to negative pressure isolation ward, theirs was hands-on experience of both the physical and psychological impact and severity of COVID-19.
2146T's aim to find a medically sound isolation solution, yet give “the patient a way of living with minimal deviation” from their pre-pandemic life, they looked to the natural world for inspiration, believing “COVID19 is a message sent to us by nature to remind us how ignorant human beings have been in the past 100 years” and that this may be “the last chance for us to reshape the form of our civilization”. Their entry, CO-habitat Independent Diving-Bell [COID] is “a play on words on the name of novel Coronavirus COVID- 19, while the removal of V (virus) from the name signifies the essence of this proposed design”. Inspired by the Diving-Bell Spider (Argyroneta aquatica), pictured above, which creates an oxygen chamber in ponds and freshwater bodies, allowing the aquatic creature to live both above and below water, the concept was designed with both the psychological, as well as physical challenges of Covid-19 in mind. In addition to the unit itself, 2146T also created ‘CO-suit’, which like the air that gets trapped in the dense layer of hydrophobic hairs on the Diving-Bell spider’s abdomen and legs, provides a self-isolated oxygen unit for the wearer when moving outside of the COID unit. An exceptionally creative biomimetic concept, COID and CO-Suit evidenced 2146T recognise that many of the answers to the world’s most complex problems can be found in the form and function of the world’s flora, fauna, and the ecosystems they form.
In addition to the Architecture and Interior Design grant, two further grants of $2,000 each were awarded to the best entries in graphic design and fashion design, to help the winners develop their concepts in public health awareness visualisation, and protective attire. For more information on the Covid-19 Design Innovation Grant winners, read here.
Hosted by author of FuturREstorative (RIBA, 2016) and cofounder and advisor to the Living Future Institute Europe, Martin Brown, Regenerative Zoom engages a growing online community in a conversation around themes as diverse as landscaping to energy, biophilia to rewilding, BIM to economics, and more.
Featuring an array of guests across its weekly editions, I’m delighted to be joining the line-up for the fifth edition, taking place at 20:00 BST on May 12th 2020 to discuss proposal for the reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the wildland-urban interface, Panarchistic Architecture. Also joining us will be Anthropocene Architecture School’s Scott McAulay, discussing educating future climate leaders. A free-to-join session on Zoom, which lasts around 60-minutes, do register to join us if yours is an interest in the general domain of architecture and urban design at the interface of climate and Earth systems.
Register to join here.
The product of an extensive transdisciplinary programme researching the potential for building resilience to wildfires through the mimicry of the biochemistries, behaviours, relationships and systems of fire-adapted species, and the assemblages the form, Panarchistic Architecture posits a radical new architectural and urban design paradigm for the wildland-urban-interface. The thesis, ongoing publishing works, including a podcast and an interview series, together with updates on research collaborations, lectures, and more, are available open access at www.panarchiccodex.com.
Extract: "Situated in a yet to be “established” field (Smith et al, 2016), this site and the works it hosts explore one of the most complex and contentious challenges or our time - the problem of living with wildfire on an “inherently” flammable planet” (Bowman et al, 2011). Residing at the apex of Earth systems, wildfire has been integral to the development of much terrestrial plant and animal life on Earth. But, its role in the evolution of our own lineage - Primates, and latterly Humans - is arguably the most compelling, curious, and currently, crucial of all. Multiple factors signalling the advent of a new “fire age” (Pyne, 2016), the paradigm presented here takes the task of living with wildfire back to the design drawing board, asking not how we, humans, would solve the problem, but how fire-adapted flora already have."
Read more here.
Adapting to these fast shape-shifting times, earlier this week I had the pleasure to virtually join peers Prof. Claudia Pasquero, Dr. Marco Poletto, and Maria Kuptsova at the Synthetic Landscape Lab at the Faculty of Architecture at University of Innsbruck to critique the final diploma presentations of students Lisa Brunner and Stefan Fuchs. Brunner presented a concept for a peri-urban algae lab which, integrating scientific research with public communications, posits the possibility of buildings that 'breath', as inflatable algae-filled transparent exterior panels expand and contract with the changing seasons, thus passively control the buildings' internal climates. Whereas Brunner's presentation explored the idea of apiary being scaled to architectural proportions, wherein the architect bio-morphically configures an architectural ruin to house several hives, a honey-extractor, and a shop [one of Brunner's developmental models is pictured above]. Their presentations shared via a Zoom meeting, watched by over 60 of their fellow students, and others with an interest in biodesign and synthetic ecologies, both did well to transform works that were originally intended for an exhibition and in-person critique, to an online audience. Well done to both, and to their professor, Claudia, and their tutors, and to the lab for putting such dynamic diploma course together.
Earlier this month I shared a few thoughts with The Times journalist Mikaela Aitken for the Raconteur's special report 'The Future Workplace', including how innovation in fields including biomaterials, recycling, and on-site resource harvesting are enabling a paradigmatic shift that turns workplaces into resource givers not takers. An open access report, you can read the article here.
Image: Algae Platform London biomaterials production exhibit at the Royal Academy, February 2020.
Melissa Sterry, PhD, design scientist, systems theorist, biofuturist, and serial founder inc. Bionic City®.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
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