Each year the Bio Art Laboratory in Eindhoven hosts talents from around the world during Dutch Design week in October. The talents are selected based on a project plan and motivation that fits within the theme of Bio Art Labs. The 2019 theme was Water and naturally I applied for this Open Call, as I am currently working on a few projects based on water as the central theme. I was happy to have my proposal approved and exhibited works at their location during October 2019.
What was particularly interesting for me was that the Bio Art Laboratory was hosting talents within a Symbiocene Forest during Design Week. We were literally invited to unearth the next era of human history exiting the anthropocene.
“In 2019 BioArt Laboratories diverts its main focus to our society’s struggle with safeguarding that which is precious to us. This year’s Talent Pressure Cooker explores one of the most multidimensional, multifaceted and probably most misunderstood and undervalued phenomena we deal with as a society: Water.
The last century, the relationship between mankind and water has been immature, to say the least. The deep-rooted respect and awe past generations and cultures had for water seems to have completely evaporated with the coming of industrial advancements and population growth. Important reservoirs have shrunk or completely disappeared, water pollution gave rise to ‘cancer villages’ in China and dumped ammunition from WWII is now starting to degrade, slowly secreting hazardous chemicals into the North Sea. Things have gotten so dire that every recent year, more people have died from unsafe water than from war or any other form of violence. Reinterpreting our relation with water would not only trigger solutions for these problems, but it will also provoke unexpected, revolutionary applications for water that will determine our development as a civilization.”
Courtesy Bio Art Labs website
I chose to explore the idea of the symbiocene and how humans could live more in harmony with water in the urban environment. For this research I used Aquatecture as the starting point and began delving further into the research surrounding the initial inspirations I was drawn to. Insects and plants which have the ability to sustain their own water needs, like the Namib Desert Beetle and Air Plants like Tillandsia and Bromeliad Species fascinated me. I managed to get some Air Plants in the Netherlands and I began studying their characteristics under the microscope at the Bio Art Lab facility. Using my findings as an inspiration, I created a series of models interpreting how these plants could guide us in the way we construct or remodel our current cities for the changing climate.
Water is the most essential resource we have on earth and it’s depleting fast. Traditional architecture keeps water out and away from buildings, yet can we begin to redefine water sensitivity in the urban environment as we enter the Symbiocene?
Embracing Water derives its inspiration from Bromeliad and Tillandsia plants which have been designed to capture water in harsh climates. Using these plants as a guide, I have been researching how urban architecture could start becoming more water sensitive.
Under the title ‘Embracing Water’, the exhibition I put together contained Aquatecture rain panel samples, an Aquatecture vapor harvesting prototype, microscopic photos and informatory drawings about the Air Plants I worked with, a book rounding up all my water research thus far and of course the latest branch of research models.
Photography by: Alexandra Hsu and Stan Berkers