This semester at Columbia, Francois Roche and Marc Fornes and their studio were exploring a topic I’ve been interested in for quite some time now which is to ask, how does an architecture dies ? The studio thus tried to elaborate processes of life and death, continuously re-negotiated in the same kind of way that proposes The woman in the dunes (see former post).
Six projects have been designed, I decided to publish only two of them but the four others might be soon visible on Columbia website or R&Sie’s…
Inoculate weep by Naomi Ocko and Benjamin Riley presents a imaginary forest in which is observed the inoculation of a virus. This agent provokes the death of the trees and thus progress from one to another creating some kind of path which composes a poetic landscape of destruction. We are here at the core of architectural narration and in the process of an architecture trying to express what Francois Roche calls a biotopisation.
Here is the text related to the project:
Is there a way to create space while maintaining the illusion that we were never there?
We propose to use a biological system to create a pavilion from an existing condition. We are introducing a micro-organic material to degrade an existing condition, a live forest of trees. The output is thus a mutation of the input itself, which is growing and dying at the same time.
Biologically, we are using white rot fungus as the agent of necrosis. This eats the glue that holds the cellulose strands in wood together, leaving a stranded pulp of wood, atrophies in different states.
We wanted to study how the morphology and geometry changes as something become more delignified and weakened, and the tree start to weep. We visualized the spatial implications and possibilities by simulating perfect delignification in material experimentation without the inconsistencies of nature.
But, understanding that nature is not perfect, we developed a protocol of dynamic testing so that we could study the forces that weaken the systems, such as gravity, attraction, collision, and friction. The outcome is a combination of both our material and computational tests.
Our agent functions as a parasite, inoculating along a path in a live forest. Not killing, but rather tormenting the system while it is still growing.
It takes one day to inoculate a path, and a season to affect it. From generation to generation, there is more growth, and also more degradation. Each generation interacts with the previous generations of inoculation. In other words, there is the possibility, or almost certainty of overlapped trails of infection.
Our scenario becomes insular and internal both within its creation and output. It is endemic and the result is a transformation of the input nature itself. The bacteria spreads from a path of inoculation, dispersed without a master plan. The strategy of infection from the initial inoculation is controlled through distance thresholds. The infected infect the uninfected, leaving a trail as the reading of time.
It is cannibalistic and atrophic, a full or partial wasting away of the initial material. Once weakened, it can be humanly manipulated to form spaces or protection. It is potentially endless and self-propagating, one area cannibalizing and infecting the next. It is in a constant state of beautiful distress.
It is atrophic, but not entropic. The system can be biologically stopped, and the resultant architecture is a remnant or a ruin of this mapping of time, an illusion of its own sublime impermanence.
I really recommend the two short films at the end of this post which fully express the poetry of this death process.