The fifth studio Francois Roche has been tutoring at Columbia University since 2006 recently presented its last projects. One of them drove an interesting conversation between the jury and its authors, Brian Buckner & Loukia Tsafoulia. For this year’s studio, Francois Roche was assisted by Ezio Blasetti and Dave Pigram

For the second year, this studio was experimenting processes of life and death of an architecture; in this regard, Sadic Apiaries is a system composed by two robots and thousand of bees. The first robot is used as a mobile matrix for the bees to build the hives architecture, while the second robot exercises a sadistic role on the bees via smoke throw in order to orient the construction.
With time, the wax loose of its consistency (and color) and eventually disintegrates, thus triggering the death of this architecture.

As I wrote earlier, an interesting discussion occurred during the final presentation involving a Darwinist vision of the project that was involving a mutation of the bees making them more resistant to the machine and therefore able to “revolt” against this sadistic apparatus. This revolt drives us to the second vision that was expressed, a Marxist vision of capitalism in which a transcendental will was organizing an energy production into a material product leading to a use of this product by the same transcendental entity.

The following text is Brian and Loukia’s interpretation of their project:

Can we orient production of the nature to produce architecture?

Can we use the animal organization to generate the (un)natural artifice?

Can we employ sadistic instruments to torture the animal to construct a domesticity of wax?

Can we use the paradox that the immateriality of smoke creates space?
Through an employment of sadistic instruments within an artificial hive apparatus, a multiplicity of bee colonies constructs a domesticity of wax over a period of time.

The protocol for construction is the utilization of a natural agent animal — the honey bee — its expended energy, and its consequential construct. The bee is the assembler and its derivatives are the spatial artifact.

The process begins in the containment device — a cavernous, mobile, artificial housing — that reveals its interior construct of layered wax honeycomb with time. The containment device actively engages and amends the agents’ behaviors by negotiating the solid void relationship inherent in the agents’ constructive nature. Over time the exposure to external biotope defines a battle between the natural conditions and the semi – artificial structure.

The machine creates a symbiotic relationship with the bee; it enters into a machinic assemblage with it. It therefore extends beyond any earlier distinction between the mechanical and the organic and includes both domains. It is composed of organic and inorganic parts which act together to constitute its life and to produce its power and speed.

A sequence of internal sadistic devices intent upon aggravating and torturing the bees further calculates the consequence of the agents’ energy. The instruments employ smoke to ensure a continuous void space for habitation through the hive construction and create surface deformation of the structure.

There is an interaction between the human body and the structure, the living space, fresh as flesh, supple and formable. In this sense the human body shapes the adaptable wax structure. The space is formed according to the humans’ postures and needs. At the same time the structure either compels the human body to crawl, to contract, or permits it to be released, to stand, defining different spatial qualities.

The hypothesis is focused on controlling the energy of the bee so as to produce architecture full of natural odor, taste, sounds, and touch that moves, wet and slippery in some areas, sticky and hairy in others; a structure that will at last be cannibalized by its natural context justifying the internal process of Birth and Thanatos.