Tallinn Architecture Biennale Shortlist 2022
Team: IM-A Studio (Katya Bryskina and Nataly Khadziakova), Vform (Vlad Bek-Bulatov), Dmitry Morozov ::vtol::
Intern Andrew Shablinsky
Nature Machine is an ongoing investigation of 'interspecies collaboration’ for a generation of soft megastructures and how the collaboration between humans, robots and bio-organisms can change the world we live in. This proposed endeavour aims to create a functional and poetic public space for human and non-human agents to test a new life as a part of a temporary architecture using local resources, such as agricultural fibres, timber and solar energy. The goal is to create an ecosystem, a living harmony, by generating a suitable growth environment inside an incubator and investigating robot and mycelium interaction and how they adjust to each other.
Our relationship with nature is a fundamental aspect, and we have to operate sensibly as a part of the ecosystem. Our Anthropocentric presence is either altering or establishing all systems, and we have to rethink our co-living strategies and speed. The goal is to form environments finding a balance between analogue and computation, natural and artificial, which leads to the creation of a better environment where we can collaborate with nature and let its intelligence fully unfold.
Mycelium is the largest organism on Earth. It is the root-like fibrous material of fungus, mostly composed of chitin. Mycelium has always proved to be a good source of nutrition and has become acclaimed for its material structure when it is dried. When mycelium is alive, it collaborates with trees to transfer nutrients and water. As a living system, it is an unlimited source of inspiration, research and possibilities. Integrating mycelium into our built environments can help us ascertain how to collaborate with this organism using technologies for better coexistence with the natural world.
The proposed robotic system cooperates with mycelium by slowly depositing its fibres on a suggested growing path with required nutrients that will adjust to its growth rate in real time. The robot uses a contrast sensor to track the amount of mycelium on the structure so that there are enough layers of fibres being deposited for bonding. If the robot sense that the growth rate has slowed, the depositing will slow in consort and wait for the mycelium. Solar energy is used to power this process. The mycelium grows at different rates depending on the season and climate. A temperature sensor slows down or stops the process when it gets too cold and starts again as the environment warms up. The robotic system is meant to follow seasonal patterns like mycelium, forests and all organic material found in nature.
The Nature Machine Installation aims to introduce a bioactive incubator with a functioning robotic unit as a part of the urban environment and public space. It consists of an atmospheric timber installation with a birch bark curtain, a robotic unit depositing the fibrotic structure during the biennale, and actively growing mycelium inside. It is a study of co-habitation across species, combining the synthetic and natural, aiming to create a poetic and evolving pavilion.