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Title: Bio-material probes :design engagements with living systems
Authors: Ramirez Figueroa, Paola Carolina
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: the last decade has seen the emergence of biotechnical architecture, a discourse inspired by contemporary developments in biotechnologies and that imagines the possibility and consequences of integrating living systems into the processes of design and fabrication of architecture. In this thesis, I argue that one of the major challenges facing biotechnical architecture is in exploring the design possibilities of living systems; given the complexities associated in direct engagement, designers often approach them indirectly by falling back on tools, techniques, and frameworks of existing technologies. The process results in a lack of appreciation of the way living systems constitute potentially revolutionary technologies that can redefine our conception of design and architecture. In this thesis, I propose a creative exploration methodology which affords a direct engagement with living systems, and generates the context to explore their design possibilities. The thesis is divided in two parts. The first builds the theoretical groundwork and argues that there is tension between two biotechnical imaginations: one that operates within biotechnical architecture; and the other that defines the narrative of contemporary biotechnologies. I argue that the tension raises two research questions: are there any alternative ways and contexts for working with living systems that take elements from both discourses? And what methods and ways of exploration do we need to engage directly with living systems to find the design possibilities? To explore the research questions, I propose the methodology of bio-material probe: design situations that provide the context to explore the design possibilities of biological systems, but that suspend the requirement for a practical design outcome at the outset. Four bio-material probes are mobilised in the second part of the thesis to define different approaches to designing form with living systems, starting with parametrics and evolving to an approach that considers non-human agency and assemblages.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

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