Whispering walls, listening stones, living bricks

Experimental Architecture Group (Rachel Armstrong, Simone Ferracina, Rolf Hughes)

1.         When we speak (RA) [figure 1]

We will tell you a story of the world you think you know, through the living rocks of our planet — or bricks of life, if you prefer. We will weave a tale of a consciousness that is encoded in microbial exchange with the soils, and acknowledges the inseparability of life from our dirt.

 

Our extraordinary menagerie sprang from the simplest of origins, clinging to the catalytic surfaces of minerals that bounded an organic broth. When we speak with zircons — tiny crystals that can survive extreme geological events and reliably capture the geostory of the planet as natural time-capsules — they tell us that we did not arise from a hellishly hot fireball, but emerged within a Darwinian “warm little pond” that existed around 4.3 billion years ago, in Edenic climates.

 

Other living stones made of hematite that are part of the primitive ocean floor, betray tube-like fossils as old as 4.28 billion years. Found alongside carbonate rosettes, made of apatite, these fossils are indicative of early biological activity and evidence our first cities. Once, they would have been thriving colonies of gelatinous, rust-red mats, perhaps similar to those today that cling to the sides of black-smoking geothermal vents in the sunless worlds of the abyss. Now, like all ancient civilizations, they lie quietly amongst the rubble.

 

Together, our living stones, speak in geological languages of mineralization and sedimentation, which also form the bedrock of nutrients for next generations. This link between life and soils originates in deep time, when our complex communities existed much sooner after the formation of the planet than we previously supposed.

1.1           Boundary (SF) [figure 2]

Consciousness can be understood in terms of boundaries—of walls—, as the awareness of a (bound) self, as the legibility of the edge that separates an interior from an exterior, a subject/object from an environment or milieu. Here, the most radical move will be to discuss consciousness in terms of what other nonhuman beings could be endowed with it: animals, plants, bacteria, machines, even bricks. And yet perhaps we should not aim for an expansion of the purview of consciousness, with its pre-eminently human, normative and oppositional connotations and biases, but for its abolition; for doing away with consciousness altogether, and rather re-imagining what it means to be human beyond the confines of a subject and its language; for probing other languages or quasi-languages through which new identities can be woven and performed, across and between subjects and objects; languages that are not in the service of a Cartesian subject and its laws (the subject as foundation of knowledge) but of something closer to Foucault’s subject (the subject as foundation of ethics), more elusive and tentative, like the wandering lines in Fernand Deligny’s maps, or the liquid traces described by durational protocell accretions. Here the drawing is no longer a conveyor belt between an authorial figure on one side and a finished product on the other, a technology for the imposition of semantic monocultures or for the top-down prescription of ideas, values and technical steps. Rather, the fluid meandering of forms in these drawings is dynamic and behaves in response to its context; its chemical traces capture and translate not a command, or an abstracted idea or intent, but an encounter.

1.2 This world is coming alive (RH) [figure 3]

There are still one or two among us who remember homes that  did pretty much nothing more than provide space, shelter and light. The dwellings they describe didn’t move, unless brought down by hurricanes or floods. They didn’t eat or drink. They didn’t even think or speak!  What a silent world that must have been. Inert. Joyless. Wasteful.

 

Welcome to our world, a world that is coming alive. We are looking at the reflections, refractions, field changes, learning to gaze through narrowed eyes so that other dimensions swim into focus. We learn through feeling – vibrations, ripples, halos, radiance. This world is coming alive. It is a world without competition.

 

Our transitions are outside explanation as explanation systems are currently configured. When you reduce explanations to components they don't really make much sense at all. Yet other explanations are equally non-explanations. Mysticism masquerading as science.

 

It is physically impossible that a thing of water can converse with a thing of air unless we consider a bubble, and all the world’s a storm, its froth and rain merely rising and falling, its tears congealing on the mould on the concrete cellar door, the outside dew being neither here, nor there, settling and evaporating daily – the born becoming unborn, bobbing awhile before sinking down, each place given over to others, and others still, these thrashing continuously, repulsed, crushed, or flattened, this being a change of mere degrees, for a nothing can scarcely be a something before it disappears.

 

We summon magic forces and slip our earthly tether. We are not technically  'alive'. Something akin to cutting an umbilicus has occurred. There is no central programme. But drop us in a solution and we unfailingly seek its radiance. The theological impulse, it seems, is widely distributed.

 

It is coming alive, this world.

 

What is this strange agitation that occurs when we meet? The pressure point, the point of contact, it sends reverberations through my entire being. Every element of my consciousness surges towards you, but you retreat.

 

This world is coming alive.

 

A nothing can scarcely be a something before it disappears.

 

Unless it has the capacity for love.

 

In that case it possesses volition, which means (“operational definition”) we can deal

with it. And we shall.

 

Let us now sing the strange spaces between meanings.

2.     Bacterial Gardening (SF) [figure 4]

If we dilute subjectivity and let it become collaborative, distributed and shared; then the solid walls that radiate from it –our buildings—might also turn soft and porous, liquid and responsive, wet and bendable. If the subject is no longer a boundary, so will its extensions in time and space stop separating, appropriating, dividing, fixing, conquering and enclosing; rather, they will interweave and connect, probe and adapt, link, orchestrate and co-inhabit. Oppositions such as that between nature and culture also stem from consciousness in the sense of a boundary which is ontologically re-affirmed. Yet when the boundary is removed, when, for example, we see the human body as part of the environment—as a set of ‘rooms’ for other organisms such as bacteria; when we become, among other things, a microbiomic geography, then a clear-cut division between natural and cultural beings falls apart. And so, materials—what we use to draw our pictures or build our homes—suddenly open up to include a hybrid ecology of living and non-living, human and non-human, natural and artificial beings. Here, the aim of buildings is no longer to protect culture from nature, or to measure and possibly limit environmental damage based on economy-driven interpretations of ‘greening’ or ‘sustainability’, but to promote positive synergies and mutually beneficial relationships. And yet, this necessarily requires a relinquishing of control on the part of designers, the willingness to open one’s subjectivity up to a degree of otherness, uncertainty, opacity and risk.

2.1 Fluid life (RH) [figure 5]

Though dreams are filled with waves and weather, the world comprises long, narrow threads with which we bind each other, until these become bandages, and these in turn become a seeping, weeping, luminous web, in which we are enmeshed.

 

And so I fold my skin over yours

And you roll your skin around mine

And there we stay, unseeing and unseen –

strange flower of forever flesh,

forever bursting to bud.

 

But every day the drop–

Every day it promises–

Fall but never get

Around to it.

 

[Pause].

 

Snap.

 

2.2 NUMBERS (RA) [figure 6]

[Figures taken from: Anon. (2011). Microbiology by numbers. Nat Rev Microbiol, 9(9), p.628.]

 

And so, we diversified, becoming transformers that are integral to life on the planet.

 

Our numbers are so vast that they lose meaning in your terms, dwarfing astronomical figures. Life on the microbial scale would stretch for 100 million light years if all the 1 × 1031 viruses on earth were laid end to end. There are 100 million times as many bacteria in the oceans (13 × 1028) as there are stars in the known universe. The rate of viral infection in the oceans stands at 1 × 1023 infections per second, and these infections remove 20–40% of all bacterial cells each day. Moving onto dry land, the number of microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil (1 × 109) is the same as the number of humans currently living in Africa. The biofilms that form dental plaque are so densely packed that a gram will contain approximately 1 × 1011 bacteria, roughly the same number of humans that have ever lived. Not quite so densely organised, the bacteria living in the average human gut weigh about 1 kilogram, and a human adult will excrete their own weight in faecal bacteria each year. The number of genes contained within this gut flora outnumbers that contained within our own genome 150-fold, and even in our genome, 8% of the DNA is derived from left-overs of viral genomes.

 

Microbiological numbers can also span enormous scales in space and time. The largest known contiguous fungal mycelium spanned an area of 2,400 acres (9.7 square kilometres) at a site in eastern Oregon, USA. In a small viral particle like the Simian virus 40 (SV40) there are 958,980 atoms. In terms of longevity, microorganisms can become dormant, or form spores, that survive for great timespans. Some viable bacteria extracted from amber were estimated to be 34,000–170,000 years old.

 

In total, there are around 1,400 known species of human pathogens (including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and helminths), and although this may seem like a large number, human pathogens account for much less than 1% of the total number of microbial species on the planet. Estimates for the total number of microbial species vary significantly, from as low as 120,000 to tens of millions and higher. This large range exists because only 1 × 10−22% of the total DNA on Earth has been sequenced, although the Earth Microbiome Project is improving this dramatically. This means that the fraction of microbial diversity that has been sampled to date is effectively zero, a suitably abstract symbol to end on.

3.              Living Architecture (SF) [figure 7]

The Living Architecture project is a transdisciplinary research scheme combining bioenergy, design, synthetic biology, robotics and building construction, and working across a number of institutions and enterprises across Europe, including Newcastle University and the University of the West of England in the UK, The University of Trento and Explora Biotech in Italy, Liquifer Systems Group in Vienna, and the National Spanish Research Council in Madrid, Spain. The project combines different bioreactor species—Microbial Fuel Cells, Photobioreactors and synthetic bacterial consortia—with structural components, re-imagining buildings as living and ecologically productive hubs for inter-species co-habitation and for the metabolic processing of domestic waste. Algal lagoons provide oxygen-rich fluid to connected arrays of living bricks, which are fed by urine, activated sludge and mixed-culture biofilms. Here a combination of photosynthetic microorganisms and anaerobic bacteria process the feedstock and generate biomass, electricity and clean water. A range of a la carte synthetic biofilms transform toxic chemicals like phosphate into value-added products like fertilizers, oils and disinfectant. 

 

Of course, bacteria and algae are not mere materials, waiting to be given a form, inert, stable and obedient. They are not machines, and are not easily controlled. They are recalcitrant and unruly, and resist our designs.

 

To draw a living brick is not to translate an intent or idea, but to start an experiment, a conversation, a friendship.

3.1 LANGUAGES (RA) [figure 8]

[Inspired by Schauder, S. and Bassler, B.L. (2001). The languages of bacteria. Genes & Dev. 15, pp.1468-1480.]

 

We exist because we speak, therefore we are conscious.

 

Our communities are built on common visions of symbiosis, virulence, antibiotic production, and biofilm formation. We communicate these dreams with each other using chemical signalling molecules like lactones and oligopeptides. These substances comprise our words, which are received by the cognate detectors of others. Each is defined precisely and subject to rules of grammar, so that we are not distracted by all the noise around us.

            

We taste, we feel, we speak, we exist. Not like you - like ‘us’.

 

Challenging your central dogma of the ‘selfish’ gene where – DNA makes RNA makes protein – we deploy the potency and flexibility of metabolism as our primary economy. This determines the viability of any political, genetic, alterations. Our versatile biochemical languages establish whether any given genetic program will operate, or not, and so, curtail its ‘selfish’ behaviour. Looking outwards towards the expansion of our metabolic networks into new chemical landscapes, rather than the inwards perpetuation and conservation of our DNA sequences, we are diverse in our evolutionary trajectories and generous with our knowledge.

 

We have a strong sense of community.

 

 When we speak in groups, we must reach a quorum, or threshold number of beings, before we can take concerted action. These conversations empower us to act as multicellular organisms, so we can reap the benefits that we could not otherwise achieve as individuals. Speaking in many bacterial tongues that can evolve with time and context, we use the language of autoinducers to distinguish between low and high cell population densities. Accordingly,  the entire community alters its biochemical capacity to exchange nutrients together, releasing amino acids and vitamins into a common ‘public’ space. Although these are energetically costly to produce, we all benefit from the substances provided in return, by our partners. Cooperation through dialogue is at the heart of a healthy metabolic economy.

 

We act as one.

 

Of course, there are always cheaters and traitors, that – tempted by starvation – ride a cheap trick on the efforts of others. When we notice these individuals, we speak of justice and form clusters that spatially segregate them from the metabolic economy, forcing them into starvation. These are ethical decisions founded on fundamental choices.

 

Besides, we can act quickly when food is in short supply, acting as a coherent ‘brain’ by sending electrical impulses carried on potassium ions. These synchronise metabolic oscillations between sometimes entirely separate communities. Acting like a cohesive military unit, we assemble to collectively manage our resources.

 

When your antibiotic strategies, destroy our languages you render us mute and deaf, creating a microbial Babel. Since we are conscious beings, we understand you mean war and so, we collectively mobilise against you.

3.2 Contact (RH) [figure 9]

I do not think

I do not think

I am worth something

not because

I am not worth anything

but because I do not think

I do not think

you have to help me

think

I am worth something.

 

I grip this ladder for you.

You could as well grip it for me

But this is how it is, this time.

You run up, launch, kick – and fly;

Reach out for support in mid-air;

Fall. Slow falling in space.

 

Like a feather rotating on the breeze.

 

Something

not worth anything

there must be something wrong

with you

trying to make me matter

trying to make me think

I matter

whereas the only thing

mattering

I do not think

you being worth something

you shape me.

 

Again. I hold it for you.

Come. Try again. Trust me.

Up you run – launch, point and fly.

And fall. Gracefully.

 

But, dear friend, it was a better fall!

Don’t you think so?

 

Listen, this falling probably isn’t a problem.

The world is full of falling.

Falling is what we do.

It’s what we want.

Even animals are falling all around us.

Falling is the graceful acceptance of time.

The fleeting choreography of the living

against the insistent gravity of the divine.

 

And if you please

not

to shape me

I do not think

I understand

I am

not

worth anything

I do not think

there must be

something wrong

with you

not

trying to make me

matter.

 

I am holding the ladder –

Or the ladder is holding me.

Or perhaps the earth (and its relations) still holds us all;

Each experiment, each connection between this and that;

You and me; the one that holds, the one that climbs,

The atmosphere that receives, resists, revives;

The context in which any of this makes sense (or fails to);

The gods that turn and hang their heavy heads

if we try to explain some, or all, of what happens

when we lift up – and momentarily away – from the freezing iron rungs.

STRANGENESS (RA) [figure 10]

[Reference: Macdonald, F. (2017). We Might Finally Have Found Where Complex Life Came From, Science Alert, 13 January. [online]. Available at: https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-might-have-finally-found-the-common-ancestor-of-all-complex-life. [Accessed 4 March 2018].]

 

Although we mongrel microorganisms are amazingly versatile in a metabolic sense, some of us can eat nuclear waste, our bodies are simple. The difference between being chemically robust and structurally complex resides in our origins. Controversially, there may only be two types of domain on the tree of life: bacteria and archaea. The conventional third domain eukaryotes, like humans may actually be daughters of archaea rather than a discrete parallel evolutionary pathway. If you ask us what that means, straightforwardly we say, that daughters of bacteria are metabolically inventive, while daughters of archaea are morphologically creative.

 

Today, all organisms have ways of maintaining the limits of their boundaries and the processes that take place within them. However, our early ancestors were leakier and more plastic than modern biological cells, readily allowing substances to pass into and out of them. Potentially, their molecular skins cradled dissipative bodies within them, providing quiet spaces for the accumulation of boundary-forming substances such as fatty molecules. Even without formal borders, such compartments would be sufficiently deformable, and capable of internalising other structured spaces through endosymbiosis. This takes place when one body swallows another without wholly assimilating, or digesting, its contents. Cell organelles such as the nucleus and the mitochondrion give testimony to such remarkable mergers, which took place early in eukaryotic life  perhaps when an archaeon engulfed a bacterium and the resulting, symbiotic relationship became irreversibly and successfully intertwined. Formal cellular environments would have only been possible when membranes became sophisticated gatekeepers of internal metabolic conditions, regulating them in ways that enabled these primordial cells to adapt to environmental changes.

 

We are not made of boundaries but are palimpsests, manifolds, mixologies of each other. In ancient times, it was our capacity to embrace each other that allowed us to be more than we were – not our individual genetic genius.

 

The speculative category of creature – Lokiarchaeota – named after Loki, the trickster Norse god, is a missing link in the transition from cellular to multicellular life. When a sample of deep sea sediment provided fragments of nuclear codes that suggested that ancient ancestors –  the Asgard microbes were archaeal cells primed to become complex. Through swallowing bacteria and other primitive organisms, they generated a complex internal milieu, full of organelles and gave rise to eukaryotes around two billion years ago. So, we await the rewilding of our ancestors – Loki, Thor, Odin and Heimdall – the progenitors of all complex terrestrial life.

 

In transitioning towards becoming stable, complex, ethical, multicellular beings, we engulf and are enfolded within others, swallowing our futures to functionality.

 

In your search for your human origins there is no need to look to apes for grandma; all life, even yours, is born of the microbial realm.

4.1 Contagion (SF) [figure 11]

Hylomorphism, the Aristotelian separation of substances into matter and form, into potentialities on one side and actualities on the other, also depends on a boundary, on the threshold between the ability of things to change and their actual changing. The Megarians believed that a capacity exists only in the moment of its being exercised (that a man, in order to be a builder, must be in the process of building), an idea that for Aristotle is absurd in that it preempts change (a man capable of sitting will always sit). Yet, perhaps there is room in the Megarian fallacy for a productive overlap of potentiality and actuality. If for Aristotle, potency is intrinsic to a specific substance, we might instead propose for it to be situated in and unlocked through relations. We imagine the aim to throw a punch as being separate from the real-world effects of throwing it (the muscular and energetic efforts involved, the resulting pain, scars, etc.). We protect intentions within the circumscribed interiority of a subject, where, past their expiration date, their effects can forever match and perfectly adhere to a simple picture of intended results. Yet the displacement of the subject, and the discovery of nomadic or floating capacities activated by encounters, transforms intentions into fabrics stretched across space and time, plotted into uninterrupted filaments that periodically twist, branch out, fold, tear, and hybridize; spreading by contagion and translation, by affinity and violence; changing their texture, colour and density; extruded into sequential forms that liberally traverse identities to perform a slow and multi-authored metabolism. Here, design is always partial and does not proceed from scratch, from a tabula rasa, but within (and in consideration of) a material continuum.

4.2  Excavation (RH) [figure 12]

Having once been magazine pristine, they now had to endure cracks in facades, graffiti, neglected maintenance routines. So we slipped the buildings from their foundations until they started to tip and stumble. Before long the ruined remnants of once optimistic desires set out on an architectural promenade, groping for a way to light out for some other territory, somewhere to dazzle and impress – to be bigger, shinier, whiter – beneath airbrushed skies.

They wandered in dejected packs. Sleep was impossible owing to the wailing as cold winds howled across balconies and screeched through courtyards. Being unsighted, collisions were frequent. The morning revealed mounds of rubble, tiles, shattered window frames as evidence. After several nights, they returned – silent, sheepish – shuffling, ashamed. They stood glumly in the newly vacated pits of the city. Gradually, the metropolis resumed its familiar skyline. No-one spoke of what happened. They will stray no more. Their only desire was to wake within view of each other while avoiding direct window contact. They pretended that their failed bid for freedom never took place. And yet, before long, some of the smaller, more temporary structures were showing signs of renewed restlessness – first, a banging shutter, an unlocked door, a loose drain pipe. Pretty soon foundations were straining to retain their wards.

As for the city’s parks, they lay still, atrophied, barely breathing. The ants continue their blind industry. We long for the day their earthworks can be heard no more.

5.   INSIDE YOU (RA) [figure 13]

As the world’s inhabitants nestle into their environments, it is structured around them.

 

Soils and buildings are the ground that life makes.

 

Soils are hyperbodies that are made by ‘us’. Within each gram, a million of our kind form symbiotic relationships between bacteria, fungal mycorrhizae and multicellular animals. These places cannot be reduced to the sum of their components.

 

Buildings, however, are produced by the assembly of fundamental elements of architectural design. The most basic of these is the brick: a slab of sun-dried mud, which may be fired and processed to be more durable. Then they are assembled like shells, for protection and keeping Nature out.

 

We microbes choose another kind of shelter as settlements for our colonies; multicellular hosts. Like buildings, they are made up of essential units; not bricks, but cells, which are not inert but living.

 

We are inside you, outnumbering your cells 9:1. We influence your inner life as the side effects of our metabolisms alter your mood, your dreams, your consciousness. You are a meta-city for our kind, wrapped around us as we live our lives within you. While you offer a zone of constant turbulence; shedding the dead cells we feed on and washing us away with detergents, we adapt to these disturbances. You are never free of us. Your human body already a bioarchaeological condensation of bacterial codes, viruses and other parasites is in fact a “superorganism,” where human and microbial traits are blended.

 

We are already one with your purpose: (You) a city of living ‘bricks’ that shelters (we) within microbial houses for living in.

5.1 Monsters (SF) [figure 14]

Could monsters encapsulate a new paradigm for design? Not Frankenstein’s creature (the project), which is assembled in the image of its creator, combining well-defined components according to a pre-established template or diagram; but Frankenstein’s creature (the output), an assemblage that refuses to abide by strict design scripts and occupies a liminal yet agentized space between living and dead, human and nonhuman. Monstrosity, like waste, grows with increased deviations and diversions from the Demiurge’s plans, with increased hybridity. In every new iteration, every rebirth and every crossing, the legibility of previous intents is lost, the index of original functions and uses becomes blurry, diffused, decontextualized; new intentions and alliances emerge, re-configuring the creature’s body; testing new movements, gestures and choreographies; new membranes, organs and skins; new archives.

 

How do we archive buildings? Or better, what do we value, disseminate and remember of them? Orthographic drawings, models and renderings; photoshopped photographs of pristine unoccupied spaces; shimmering details of joints and richly wrought materials; clearly staked out functions and programs embodied in instagrammable architectural form. What matters are not buildings—their monstrous bodies—, but the ways in which they fix and realize intentions. Paul Valéry partially confirms this bias with his Eupalinos:

 

Have you not noticed,—he asks—in walking about the city, that among the buildings with which it is peopled, certain are mute; others speak and others, finally—and they are the most rare—sing? It is not their purpose, nor even their general features, that give them such animation, or that reduce them to silence. These things depend upon the talent of their builder, or on the favour of the Muses.

 

Yet, if we no longer looked for our own reflection on their surface, but rather listened for their own voice—what would we hear? What kinds of sounds would these large creatures utter?

 

The Memory of Parts proposes an alternate architectural archive, an assemblage of fragments composed of clay casts developed in and with a building, pressing and extruding the material against and through the building’s body, with no regard for disciplinary, economic or programmatic standards, labels or conventions; equally engaging grand staircases and the crack on the wall; brass handles and the corners of rooms; carpets and the dust deposited along the underside of handrails.

5.2 from Promised Land (RH) [figure 15]

It is an assemblage of clay – pipes, joints, knuckles, extrusions – the edges lit by a soft light, as of dawn, that gives grey curves, contours and corners a golden hue, these being stacked in columns at the base of a stairwell, skewered by a series of slim aluminium poles. Small children fancy they see figures, animals, monsters in there, while others detect phantoms of banisters and balustrades. In the time it moved, its different limbs were said to be loosely linked by string, slack ligaments. Some rods have been lost to souvenir hunters, skin and patina similarly dissolved by human body heat. We will likely never be able to recreate the subtle measure of its original grace.

 

Others assert the structure was never other than it is, having come into the world already bearing the many forms of dissolution so evident to a trained eye. In this interpretation, it is said to be perfect in its imperfections, disease being at the core of its DNA (each simile a disguised grimace).

 

It would likely enjoy greater recognition were there an agreed name by which scholars, geologists, engineers, biologists, philosophers and their ilk could refer to it. As it is, researchers search in vain for a credible reference in our most reputable academic journals and conferences.

 

That it first appeared in a building dedicated to electricity has not gone without comment. People encountering it for the first time speak of a “spark of life” and confess to feeling “static”, “charged”, or sometimes even “discharged”. It disappears, often for months on end, whereupon a sense of loss, of creeping listlessness, descends on the city. Nobody has ever understood what it requires for its comfort. It seems happiest when left alone.

 

I have been asked by the owners of the building to draft a proposal for ensuring its long term maintenance cost effectively. To do this, I would happily grasp its purpose – its desires and motivations. But I am unlikely ever to understand these, of course – it does not respond to speech, and is unable to give an account of itself, lacking the necessary apparatus.

 

For this reason, each evening, when the building closes and its lights have been extinguished, I slip out of my uniform and lie next to it. I rest my antennae lightly on its form. Barely breathing, I take each of its various elements – hinge, joist, cast – one after the other, between my mandibles, caressing each with my proboscis, not for the purpose of exchanging pleasure between us, but rather to understand, on another plane, this horizontal and vertical  terrain we supposedly share, and which remains nonetheless so alien, so unfathomably irreducible, each to the other.

Image Captions:

 

Figure 1: Rolf Hughes, ‘Living stone’: Complex mineralization process in gel, Experimental Architecture Group, IAAC workshop, Barcelona, 2017.

Figure 2: Simone Ferracina, Liquid Notations, 2017.

Figure 3: Rachel Armstrong, Protocell Species, 2017.

Figure 4: Simone Ferracina, Living Infrastructures, 2018.

Figure 5: Simone Ferracina, Liquid Notations, 2017.

Figure 6: Rachel Armstrong, ‘Chemical Numbers’: Bridging the astronomical and the microscale, Experimental Architecture Group workshop Newcastle University, 2016.

Figure 7: Living Architecture Consortium, Integrated Living Brick Prototype, 2017.

Figure 8: Rachel Armstrong, ‘Chemical Languages’: Discourse of light and colour, Experimental Architecture Group workshop Newcastle University, 2016.

Figure 9: Experimental Architecture Group, Chemical Circus, 2017.

Figure 10: Rachel Armstrong, ‘Complex Metabolism’: Study in building chemical networks, Experimental Architecture Group workshop Newcastle University, 2016.

Figure 11: Simone Ferracina, The Memory of Parts, Exaptive Alphabet, 2017.

Figure 12: Experimental Architecture Group, Venice, 2017.

Figure 13: Rachel Armstrong, ‘Liesegang Enfolding’: Reaction-diffusion undulations on the surface of activated gel, Experimental Architecture Group workshop Newcastle University, 2016.

Figure 14: Simone Ferracina, Video still, The Memory of Parts, Carliol House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2018.

Figure 15: Simone Ferracina, Detail of clay fragments, The Memory of Parts, Carliol House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2018.