Established in 2010, Istanbul-based Konsept Projeler magazine brings together insights near and insights far on developments in architecture, design, and the built environment more generally. Produced in both Turkish and English, digital and print, thanks to considered editorial and partnerships with leading architecture festivals and events, it's become firmly established as a formidable force in the architectural print-publishing sector.
I'm delighted to join contributors including Kengo Kuma, Ken Yeang, and Carlo Ratti in sharing thoughts on emerging trends at the intersection of architecture and nature, including a critique of the concept of 'vertical cities'; why and how leading multinational PLCs across multiple market sectors are embracing biodesign and its sister disciplines; and a few words on projects current and pending. Find the article in issue K61, available now online and in-store.
Find more details here.
In March, I had the pleasure of joining the board and scientific committee of the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals to deliver the keynote at their annual dinner. Its members tasked with tackling some of humanity's most complex, therein difficult challenges, such for example as how the ilk of environmental pollution of myriad variants can be prevented, ECETOC bring together world-leading experts around leading-edge science, technologies, and thinking both in, and beyond, chemistry.
Titled, 'Through the Looking Glass: Journey's through Time and Space', my keynote examined why and how we perceive of future urban and societal possibilities as we do, using case studies past, present, and possible future in the process, before examining how new approaches, both ideological and technical, may enable us to align the materiality, design, construction, and maintenance of cities with they of the natural world - with the cycles of Earth Systems. Evidencing their understanding of how, technically speaking, chemistry, not money, makes the wider workings of the world 'go round' [how, from the molecular level upwards, material flows], ECETOC's board and committee members shared many compelling questions, reflections, and ideas on the subject.
But, keen to carry on the conversation, we've taken our discussion online, in the form of #ScienceChats which will be shared via ECETOC's social media. An initiative that will see various members and affiliates of the ECETOC community contribute their thoughts, you can join the chats via @ECETOC on Twitter, amongst other platforms.
"What role does chemistry have to play in building a better future?"
"What is the value in looking to nature when seeking to solve human problems?"
"How can we communicate about science today?"
Find out more about ECETOC and their work here.
On April 29th BBC Radio 4 launched 5-part radio series "The Five Faces of Leonardo", which produced by revered producer Sara Parker, explores Leonardo da Vinci's scientific, engineering, and wider STEM endeavours. In the first episode, Leonardo's Heart, surgeon Francis Wells exams Leonardo's anatomical drawings and discusses his research methods and discoveries, and why and how they remain relevant today. In the second episode, Leonardo's City, I take listeners on a journey through Milan past and present, and in the process share thoughts on Leonardo's contribution to city planning, construction, and the wider built environment. In the third, forth and fifth episodes, historian David Willey looks at Leonardo's military innovations, roboticist Mark Rosheim discusses Leonardo's automations, and artist Ralph Steadman shares his passion for Leonardo's flying machines.
Works that peers and I discuss during 'Leonardo's City' include the Codex Trivulzianus, Codex Atlanticus, and The Last Supper, amongst others. Our research travels having taken us to Castello Sforzesco, including Salle della Asse; Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Biblioteca Ambrosiana; Santa Maria Delle Grazie; the Leonardo 3 exhibition; the locks of Naviglio Grande; and Leonardo's vineyard, and more, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all as gave of their time, expertise, and inspiration to the production team and I.
2019 marking the 500th year since Leonardo's passing, all the above cited exhibitions and venues, together with umpteen others across Italy, France, UK and beyond are celebrating his many and varied contributions to society. Many, such as Leonardo 3, draw on state-of-the-art scientific enquiry, and shed new, and at times unexpected light onto the man and his works. Must-sees include Leonardo's frescos in the Salle Delle Asse at Castello Sforzesco, which in restoration will, for the first time, be accessible to the general public from May, and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana's series of exhibitions exploring various aspects of the Codex Atlanticus. Search #Leonardo500 to find out more.
Listen to 'Leonardo's City' here and see a few photographs from our da Vinci travels below.
Exploring scientifically-plausible futures from the year 2079 onwards, The Future in Flash™ is an experiment in flash fiction in word and image. Unfolding as an ongoing series of inter-related climate fictions released through social and other media including film, animation, and audio, its works, the first of which, '7pm GMT, March 23rd 2079', is now live, will view world-changing events through myriad cultural, political, social, geographical, and ecological lenses.
Find out more at: futureinflash.com
Follow at: Instagram #FutureInFlash
Images: 7pm GMT, March 23rd 2079, authored by Melissa Sterry and illustrated by Joshua Puppe
Inaugurated in 2007, the International Design Awards serve to recognise, celebrate and promote excellence in design practice in fields including architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture, and product, transport, graphic, and fashion design. A juror since 2008, I can attest to the overall standard of entries to 12th edition, the results of which have just been announced, being the highest yet. Both technically and conceptually, several categories, and in particular architecture, medical and scientific equipment, and graphic design, were populated by not one, but a number of entries of which the standard merits recognition. Consequently, my fellow jurors and I deliberated long and hard over our 2019 voting choices. However, close though the results, there was a consensus.
Congratulations to all as were awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze, and Honourable Mentions across the many award categories, and in particular to International Design Awards 'Architecture Design of the Year' award winner, Challenge Design, [lead designer Jie Lee] for their entry Yuanlu Community Center in Chongqing and International Design Awards 'Emerging Architecture Designer of the Year' award winner, Istituto Marangoni Milano Design School's Eric Batista for his entry Taino Interpretation Centre. Further outstanding winning entries include Diana Kellogg Architect's Rani Ratnavati School and Women's Centre; FNDA Architecture Inc.'s Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Khorog, Tajikistan; SUP Atelier / School of Architecture, Tsinghua University's [lead designer Yehao Song] Village Lounge in Shangcun [above]; Junsekino Architect and Design Co.,ltd's [lead designer Jun Sekino] Brick House in Bangkok; Locus Associates' [lead designer Jerome Lee] Sanya Forest Wetland Park [below]; and Discover Echo Inc.'s Rebel.
Entries for the International Design Awards 13th Edition are now open and those interested in submitting an entry can find out more here.
On December 12th I had the pleasure of joining the staff and students at The Bartlett's B-Pro Urban Design MArch programmes as external critic for the Research Cluster 15 [Cross-scale Design: The Amphibious Laboratory], and Research Cluster 16 [The Inhuman City, part of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab] programmes. The former led by Amphibious Lab co-founder Maj Plementias, the latter by ecoLogicStudio co-founder Prof. Claudia Pasquero and architect and computational designer Filippo Nassetti, RC15 explores the interface of cities and dynamic hydrological systems at a time of dramatically amplified, accelerating and evolving environmental change, and how architectural, urban and territorial design may adapt, whereas RC16 ‘aims to mobilise multiple forms of intelligence, human as well as non-human, to redefine the urban’, examining the potentialities of developments in fields including synthetic biology, bio-hacking, artificial intelligence, and nano-technologies. Having been aboard as a B-Pro Masters critic since 2014, I've witnessed the programmes go from strength to strength, as an ever greater number of future urban potentialities emerge. RC15 and RC16 academic year 2018 - 2019 cohort can take a bow for having delivered one of the most impressive term #1 prevention sessions yet. Populated by urban research projects exploring topics including how biocomputing can help make urban transport networks more efficient; the variances between terrestrial and marine collective living intelligence; non-human architectures; evolving amphibious architectures; and developing human applications for hydrological flows in estuaries, snapshots of works-in-research-and-development progress are pictured above and below.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1919, the University College of Estate Management delivers CIOB, CABE, CMI, and RICS accredited undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and apprenticeship programmes in subjects including construction and real estate management, building and quantity surveying, architectural design technology, and environmental and business studies. In celebration of its fast-approaching centenary year, UCEM will be hosting a series of events that both explore its past, while anticipating its future, of which the highlight is a 1-day conference and VIP reception titled, 'The Built Environment of the Future'. Taking place at home to the world's largest interactive exhibition of future cities, The Crystal on May 16th 2019, I am delighted to be aboard and joining speakers including Craig Bennett, CEO, Friends of the Earth; Sherin Aminossehe, Head of Offices, Lendlease; Ben Bolgar, Senior Director, The Prince's Foundation; Mark Farmer, CEO, Cast; and Amanda Clack, Executive Director, CBRE; amongst others. Places limited to 270, those interested in attending can find out more and request attendance at the following link:
Image: Solar Eclipse, Hyogo, Japan on May 21 2012 by Takeshi Kuboki
On the evening of October 23rd 2018 world-leading University of Cambridge solar physicist Dr. Helen Mason OBE delivered a captivating talk in which she elegantly described past, present, and possible future understanding of the star's physics and the interplay therewith the Solar System and its planetary bodies, including Earth. Part of an ongoing series of public lectures organised by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Dr. Mason's lecture took audience members on a journey from the birth of the sun some 4,500,000,000 years ago to the theories of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Eugene Parker and more, to recent discoveries that both she and her peers have made having harnessed the potential of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory [SDO], NASA and ESA's joint project the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory [SOHO], JAEA's HINODE satellite, the National Science Foundation funded Advanced Technology Solar Telescope [ATST], and the Extreme Ultraviolet Normal Incidence Spectrograph [EUNIS], amongst space and terrestrial hardware. Having scoped out the knowns, including myriad fascinating facts and figures that conveyed the profound influence the Sun has had on life on Earth from the outset of evolution, Dr. Mason went onto discuss the known unknowns being interrogated at the edge of solar research, including how the recently launched Parker Solar Probe may help inform understanding of space weather, and research into the threat solar storms may present to terrestrial and space technologies and other human systems. In closing Dr. Mason discussed her passion for interdisciplinary works that bring together scientists with artists from school age upwards, and why working beyond boundaries is critical to building a better understanding of the world, Solar System, and Universe we live in.
Find upcoming STFC lectures here: https://stfc.ukri.org/news-events-and-publications/stfc.ukri.org/news-events-and-publications/
Image: Leda and The Swan by Neil Spiller
Throughout a career spanning over three decades Neil Spiller has carved out a reputation as one of the foremost original, creative, intuitive, and influential architectural thinkers worldwide. Infused with deep knowledge of fields as diverse as the Classics, cybernetics, synthetic biology, Surrealism, and much, much more, Spiller's written and drawn works transcend the boundaries of space and time in their extensive and ongoing interrogation of architectural and landscape potentialities near and far.
Until recently the Hawksmoor Chair of Architecture and Landscape and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, and formerly Vice-Dean and Graduate Director of Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, Spiller is widely a published author who will be known to many through his umpteen contributions to AD, and numerous exhibits at prestigious galleries, and architecture and design institutions the world-over. Spiller is also founding director of AVATAR [Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research group], which internationally recognised for its paradigm shifting contribution to architectural research, experiment, discourse, and teaching has birthed works including James Eagle's RIBA President's Medal-winning thesis, and my own recently submitted PhD thesis.
For his latest architectural trick Spiller has teamed-up with iconic and highly influential graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. They that know not the name will know the work, for Oliver is the designer that created the visual identities for many of the most pioneering and successful bands of the 80s and 90s, including the Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and Pixies. Bringing together "a plethora of new, unpublished and beautiful drawings in what will be the [collectors take note] only monograph available on his [Spiller's] work", Communicating Vessels "explores the surreal impact of advanced technology on the architecture of the house and garden", and in the process documents one of the most scholarly extensive and creatively experimental research projects of the past few decades. Being launched via a campaign on Kickstarter, as they that know Spiller's work well will know, any as place a pledge to support this project will be not disappointed!
Place a pledge here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/862442095/communicating-vessels-neil-spiller?ref=profile_backedwww.kickstarter.com/projects/862442095/communicating-vessels-neil-spiller?ref=profile_backed
A On Friday 19th October the University of Oxford's Museum of Natural History held its inaugural Lates night, which titled 'Uncultured' celebrated the opening of its Bacterial World exhibition. Situated in the heart of the city, the museum was abuzz with microbial-themed activities of myriad kind, including a 92ft long E.coli installation and glassworks by Luke Jerram; geological fossils evidencing how bacteria oxygenated Earth 2.4 billion years ago and further exhibits on loan from the Wellcome Collection, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Natural History Museum, London; Jazz pianist Martin Pickett, who musically interpreted films of bacterial growth, reproduction, and swimming; various visual arts workshops exploring techniques and technologies to print/draw/model your own bacteria; a bacterial bistro where participants learnt how bacteria are used in food production, preservation, and flavouring; and several talks and discussions, of which the highlight was 'Wonders of the Microbial World', a lecture by Harvard University's Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter. Taking the audience on a tour of their various in natura and in vitro interrogations of bacterial life forms and their history, geography, architecture, and more, Chimileski and Kolter shared a sumptuous selection of imagery, much of it from their new book, 'Life at the Edge of Sight: A Photographic Exploration of the Microbial World'.
Running until May 28th 2019, Bacterial World is supported by an ongoing series of talks, workshops tours, and other events, which explore subjects as diverse as the origin of life on Earth, symbiosis between bacteria, plants and animals, microbial impact both good and bad on humans past, present, and possible future, and even a 'Party in a Petri' dish where the museum halls will be decked with microbial themed carols, quizzes, games, talks and more. Although, by comparison to the Natural History Museum, London, the museum is small, it's permanent collection is small, but perfectly formed. Items of particular note include its fossil record, which elegantly documents the evolution of life, and its gemstone and mineral collections. A visit comes highly recommended!
Find out more at: https://oumnh.ox.ac.uk/
Melissa Sterry, PhD, design scientist, systems theorist, futurologist, founder Bionic City®.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
© Melissa Sterry 2019 All Rights Reserved