…this was a research based design project culminated in September 2010 at the Bartlett, London. It was borne from earlier fascination and research in self-organizing, bottom-up biological systems and how they could possibly influence new parameters within architecture. It started in a micro-biology lab where the growth, documentation and analysis of slime mould encouraged the creation of a speculative, living architectural material technology- a Material Internet, where the cellular rhythm of slime-mould was harnessed as a biological social-networking system, accessed and deployed through the alchemical relationship it has with gold, essentially communicating by atmospheric engagement through the gold surfaces within Freemason’s Hall in London. In its simplest beta-terminology, it could be compared to a living Morse-code system, where masonic ciphering provided dual coding between the biology of the material and information stored and transmitted within it through the building. The program took on a narrative inspired by Masonic ritual, envisioning the situation and consequences of the users engagement with the living technology through plan, section and axonometric of the Hall that overlaid the biological clock of the Material Internet with a new architectural framework based off the ritual and Solomons Temple, and revealed a strangely interesting set of clues about how the users might utilize this prospective technology through the bodies senses, inevitabley suggesting a new architectural model for constructing the Masonic Temple.

Finally! The video documentation  from my laboratory growth experiments and analysis of physarum slime mould under differing conditions of temperature, light, humidity and, food path and location. Most riveting of the documentation is the change in cellular rhythm over the duration of the video documentation as the system adapts to the environment of the laboratory, light of the microscope and location of the food I tease it with from the regulated conditions of its regularly kept containment cooler (at 20C). The ebb and flow of the cellular rhythm within the biological system has recently been heavily studied by micro-biologists and computer scientist abroad. However, it is the brilliant Unconventional Computing team at the University of West England at Bristol where the first slime-bot  was assembled utilizing the cellular rhythm of the slime mould linked with a micro-fluidic chip.

http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/article.asp?item=1553&year=2009

In an architectural context, I am interested in this living technology for its alchemical relationship with gold, more aptly with its surreal installation under guilded gold as a material internet capable of storing and releasing secret codes of information through the users environmental engagement with it in built space.

Below is work from the past 2 weeks that explore at more depth the parameters of the project which I am working on. At the center is the masterplan, incomplete at the moment, but frames the outline of the conception and operation of a slime-mould based, living material internet imbedded through gilded gold and accessed by a component of the human body as it engages the building through gestural ritual (hip-processional via vestibule, eye-touch with light via temple, hand/humb-handshakes via threshold) that occurs within the allegorical projection of freemasonry. The building operates as a metaphorical clock through quarterly lodge meetings, the living material internet operates on a biological clock, slipping between the three life-cycles of slime mould caused by atmospheric changes in its environment (humidity, temperature, light and food source). The internet itself, is a clandestine technology, known only to the highest degree within the society. The slime mould is coded through the Knights Templer ciphor and over laid within the framework of freemasons hall, which the architectural/geometrical framework is coded from the inspiration of the ‘passing through the octagon’ (standing on the cross) masonic cipher. Through dual coding, messages can be recorded and stored through the architectural engagement of the building with the body and revealed through the architecture itself.

The result is an architectural inquiry that is material,  technology and event based, situated within a social context with political spice, and ‘occurs’ on the micro-scale, human scale of touch, the scale of the city and the scale of society.

“…if your first reaction is to imagine what it looks like, you have probably missed the point…”

Kester Rattenbury, 2003

 

The 3rd Degree is an architectural thesis design endeavour stemming from the past 10months of research and design adventures, culminating in a project based around creating, accessing and revealing hidden codes within an architectural framework through the bodies engagement with a material internet. The program is a secret secular brethren society based on three levels of ascent that meets in private four times a year in a space modeled after Solomon’s Temple. The material internet is a slime-mould based living technology hidden within the guise of gilded gold. The material internet is a clandestine system accessible only to highest rank, the third degree members within the society. The body engages the system through the building, utilizing the hand, eye and leg as components that sense the space through sensations of touch, light and movement, where objects such as door handles and desks, through use and activity, reveal the architectural framework of the building as a tool that projects a model of the societies ideal world within the guilded gold coating on the inside encompassed by a larger framework that suggests this projection to the outside world.

section framework/allegorical interpretation

 

 

Excerpts from the thesis design report:

The 3rd Degree, Secrecy & the Consquences of Promiscuous Technology

In the dark.

In the warmth on a moist palette.

In the light.

In the cool flow of cosmic breeze.

Waiting…

…crawling, flowing, pulsating, pausing, reversing, creeping, slowing, speeding, pausing, stopping, firming, accruing…

…erecting, posing, stand proud.

Thirsty,

sweating across planes,

each sweet globule of sweat holds with it a minute universe of brethren proportion.

Observing sensible environmental notations, responding from and anticipating for, memory of moments.

______________________________________________

The architectural interstition between two parallel technologies; a cartesian projection of an allegorical architecture (freemasonry ritual) and an environmental social network material (physarum slime mould), occurs at the moment of an observant in space, the moment defined by the existence of both technologies with inherently independent measure of time. One that operates on the basis of a solar calender, the other on the basis of cellular rythm and environmental threshold.

The passage of the observant through space is codified through the biological lens of the slime mould, through the three life phases of the technology, sensing the action component of the observant that contains a memory of that component in use within each phase of its cycle. This imprint is contained and suggests mnemonic points through the existing architecture inherent to lodge ritual that occurs four times a year. At each point of ritual, a different componant of the body is in use as demanded by the architecture of the building and the ritual:

A) Processional Vestibule – Leg

B) Temple Threshold – Finger(print)

C) The Art of Memory (Temple) – Retina

The drawings below are a beginning exploration of each of the three elements above.

Processional Vestibule – Leg

Temple Threshold – Finger(print)

The Art of Memory (Temple) – Retina