Image: Mycofiltration Kamchatka: Architectural implementation of intelligent mycelium myco filtration system in Kamchatka by Kilian Rothmaya, Institute of Urban Design Synthetic Landscape Lab.
On 27th January I had the pleasure of joining the students, staff, and fellow guest critics of the Synthetic Landscape Lab at University of Innsbruck for the end of winter term juries. Assembled remotely, via Zoom, faculty members inc. Prof. Claudia Pasquero, Dr. Marco Poletto, Annarita Papeschi, and Maria Kuptsova and guest critics inc. Prof. Liss C. Werner, Dr. Mathilde Marengo, Ivan Valdez, and I critiqued works-in-progress across four courses: theory course, BA design studio, MA design studio, and pre-diploma.
Streamed live on the lab's YouTube channel, works presented included theoretical statements to explorations of virtual reality spaces to designing radical bio-digital design visions, all exploring the idea of synthetic landscapes, which the lab defines as "a design philosophy that encompasses all the processes and systems, humans, animal, microbiological and digital, that are currently accelerating the transformation of our urbansphere".
Featuring projects from the first Masters design studio to be conducted entirely in virtual reality, such as Thole Althoff's project [below], the immersive session invited assembled faculty and guests to view the projects using an array of devices and platforms, including Oculus VR sets. Integrating data and processes including satellite imaging and DeepGreen AI design protocol, the Masters projects illustrated how current and emerging technologies may enable complex landscape and related systems to be modelled in ways which help efforts to mitigate environmental issues.
Below: Mycofiltration Kamchatka: Architectural implementation of intelligent mycelium myco filtration system in Kamchatka by Kilian Rothmaya. Bottom: EcoLogical Motion by Max Lorenz and Michel Schweiger.
Supported by institutions including the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, among others, Biosphere Futures is a global database of place-based socio-ecological scenarios, case studies, references, key literature, and practical resources spread across geographic locations, ecosystems, and spatial scales worldwide. Users can search for content based on several criteria, including the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030.
With ample place-based socio-ecological scenarios, case studies, literature and other resources that have been made open-access, I have so-far contributed 3 scenarios and a first-in-kind case study [header above] and will be loading more works to the site as it grows. A beautifully conceived, designed, and curated collection, I have no doubt this new resource will prove helpful to many working in the futures space.
Read more about the project, its aims, and resources below and at this link.
Extract from Biosphere Futures:
"The Earth is a living planet. As far as we know, the only living planet in the Universe. The “Biosphere” is the place on Earth's surface where life dwells, as defined in 1875 by geologist Eduard Suess. In 1968, the first intergovernmental Biosphere Conference was held in Paris. It was recognized that humans, including their social interactions, are an integrated part of the biosphere, and a key factor in modifying the biosphere. The Biosphere Conference declared firmly that the conservation and use of resources of the biosphere should go hand-in-hand rather than in opposition -- thus promoting what we now call sustainable development -- and that interdisciplinary scientific approaches should be promoted to achieve this aim. To that end, we created Biosphere Futures to promote the development and application of scenarios that explicitly incorporate interdependencies between humans and their supporting ecosystems.
Our aim is to facilitate the use of social-ecological scenario planning for sustainable development of the Biosphere and help build a community of practice around social-ecological scenarios. We provide access to a rich collection of case studies from around that can be used to explore the various ways in which the future might unfold. Together, the case studies give insight into the diversity and plurality of people's expectations and aspirations for the future, and help understand interactions between the Sustainable Development Goals in different social-ecological contexts. Biosphere Futures is the product of a community effort. Case owners are encouraged to promote their work by contributing information about their study and share references to their products."
Last year, at the invitation of Professor Haifa Takruri-Rizk, fellow University of Salford alumnae and I gathered via Zoom to discuss our experiences of working in STEM through the pandemic. Speakers from both industry and academia, and from regions including UK/Europe, Middle East, and the Americas, among others, including Karima Es Sabar, CEO and Partner at Quark Venture; Dr. Sara Biscaya, Lecturer in Architecture at University of Salford; Helen Sheldon, Associate at RBA Acoustics; and myself, shared insights into how the unfolding events have impacted our research and practice. Our discussions expanded to issues facing women in STEM more generally, and to our suggestions as to possible means of remedy at the organisational, industry, and policy level. We hope to reconvene at a future date to explore how we can utilise our collective agency in addressing the issues raised. Those interested to read extracts from our discussions will find them in the QI 2021 edition of From Salford here.
Melissa Sterry, PhD, chartered 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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