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Capsula Mundi

Capsula Mundi is a green design project intended to redefine burial practices. The project’s aim is to change society’s approach to death, whilst also maintaining and respecting nature. Instead of gravestones cemeteries, forests will grow.

The design is an egg-shaped container made out of biodegradable bioplastic. When someone passes away, their remains are laid down in a fetal position; afterwards the pod is buried into the earth. A tree is then planted where their remains are, and family and friends look after and nurture the tree as it grows.

Image credit: Francesco D’Angelo

To view more about the project, click here.


The Dreamlife of Driverless Cars

Self-driving cars are equipped with technology which allows them to detect pedestrians, other vehicles and navigate their way around space. Their technology uses a system called Lidar, which builds imagery of the car’s surrounding landscape by tracking millions of burst of light per second. 

On behalf of the New York Times, award-winning Hackney-based design studio, ScanLAB Projects’ The Dreamlife of Driverless Cars illustrates what London looks like through the robotic vision of a self-driving car. When watching ScanLAB Projects’ video, viewers are transported through a dark and inhuman landscape populated with beautiful vein-coloured architectural structures. 

To form The Dreamlife of Driverless Cars, ScanLAB Projects used 3D scanning technology which allows them to see through the eyes of machines. Here, the invisible is made visible and their dream-like landscape prompts discussion over perspective of the world in which we inhabit. 

Video credit: ScanLAB Projects, originally produced for the New York Times.  

To view more of ScanLAB Projects’ work, visit their website. You can also view the video at the Building Centre.


Dirk Koy's Luftraum

Dirk Koy is an experimental artist who uses drones to create perception-bending videos of urban infrastructure. In his latest short film, Luftafraum, Koy transforms urban infrastructure into disorientating collages. Koy founded Dirk Koy Bild und Bewegung which develops motion graphics and experimental films.

You can see the full video of his Vimeo page

Video credit: Dirk Koy

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Peter Steinhauer’s Cocoons

Photographer Peter Steinhauer focuses on dense urban environments, drawing the beauty from industrial objects such as scaffolding, mesh and steel. In his 'Cocoons' project, Steinhauer has taken 100 images of bamboo-caged constructions in Hong Kong draped in vibrant mesh. ‘Cocoons' refers to the transformative stage buildings undergo when in construction —from architectural sites to brand-new buildings — and the cloaked mesh around the unfinished buildings resembles how insects cocoon themselves whilst undergoing metamorphosis.

 Steinhauer uses a Phase One IQ260 medium format digital back which has a high resolution of 65 megapixels. This is attached to a Cambo WRS 1250 technical camera which is designed for photographing architecture. Steinhauer’s photographs document Hong Kong’s transforming cityscape and each of his images capture the prevalence of bamboo-based scaffolding — a traditional construction technique used throughout Asia.

Cocoons by Peter Steinhauer is published by powerHouse Books, click here to learn more about it.

Image credits: Cocoons by Peter Steinhauer is published by powerHouse Books

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Ingrid Siliakus’ paper architectural models

Ingrid Siliakus creates three-dimensional architectural models out of single sheets of white paper. Siliakus’ ‘Paper Architecture’ project features famous architectural landmarks such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, and Siliakus crafts her pieces similar to how an architect plans their buildings — placing importance on constructing a two-dimensional design, then crafting the three-dimensional structure.

When designing her pieces, each structural layer is considered and Siliakus starts by building twenty to thirty prototypes before finalising the design. After the design stage is finished, Siliakus uses a combination of cutting and folding techniques — layer by layer — to build her lightweight structures (which range from 160 to 300 grams).  The paper is manipulated into three-dimensional shapes such as windows, rooftops and building facades. Each architectural detail is framed with paper, which resembles the skylines of vast urban environments.

Image credit: Ingrid Siliakus


Uli Westphal’s Cultivar Series

Adaptability and plasticity of plants is critical for the future of food and to maintain our cultural and culinary heritage.

The Cultivar Series by Uli Westphal is a collection of photographs that showcase the diversity of maize cultivars which were grown before the age of industrial mono cultures. Here, Westphal explores the way in which humanity perceives and manipulates nature and how ideologies alter how we view the natural world.

Often, the origin of food is often detached from society’s knowledge, and the original appearance of food is often very different to what the produce looks like today. Agriculture has shaped the colour and appearance of today’s plant species to be uniform and aesthetically perfect.

Westphal’s project shows not only how selective breeding and artificial selection have shaped a vast number of organisms towards society’s needs but also, that cultivation processes have also ensured species’ survival.

To view more of Westphal’s work, click here.

Image credit: Uli Westphal


Pippa Dyrlaga’s animals and plants crafted from plain paper

Yorkshire-based artist Pippa Dyrlaga creates detailed pictures of animals, plants and abstract designs out of plain white paper. Using a simple paper cutting knife as her artistic tool, Dyrlaga carves out the material, bringing her sculptural forms to life with her recreation of the intricate patterns found in natural forms. Dyrlaga begins her process by forming a basic layout sketch, then her work develops organically, and Dyrlaga only knows what a piece will appear will look like when its fully finished.

To view more of Dyrlaga’s work, visit her website.

Image credit: Pippa Dyrlaga


Snow Drawings by Sonja Hinrichsen

These huge patterns look like they’re from a fairy tale, as though they’ve been carved into freshly fallen snow by magic. Designed by San Francisco-based artist Sonja Hinrichsen, these ‘Snow Drawings’ illustrate the beauty of non-permanent nature-based artwork.

With the help of a few volunteers and some snow boots as her artistic tool, Hinrichsen stomps her installations into snow, creating patterns which resemble geoglyphs, large-scale landscape works that pre-date modern history. Although captured in photographs, Hinrichsen's work reminds us how non-permanent art makes for a more sustainable environment, and her designs are more precious as we have a limited time to view them.

To view more of her work, click here.

Image credit: Sonja Hinrichsen


Patrick Dougherty’s weaved architecture

Patrick Dougherty creates building-like structures by weaving tree branches into architectural shapes. Initially influenced by the curved forms found in Japanese pottery,  Dougherty’s whimsical creations explore what natural forms (such as branches and twigs) can be used to create. Using the simplest material in a world full of complex ones, Dougherty explores the benefit in using natural materials to enhance well-being in public spaces and to educate viewers on the importance of maintaining our natural surroundings.

To view more of Dougherty’s work, click here.

Image credit: Fancy’s Bower (2017) Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, QB, Canada. Photo: Pierre Charbonneau

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Interloop, Chris Fox

Above the escalators of Sydney’s heritage-listed Wynyard Railway Station is a sculpture called 'Interloop'. Designed by artist Chris Fox, Interloop references the station’s architectural past, whilst celebrating its heritage.

In 2016, Wynyard Station’s wooden escalators were replaced with modern metal escalators which are less of a safety risk. As part of the $100 million redevelopments of the station, Fox took the station’s iconic timber escalators treads and transformed them into his fantastical design. Interloop took 12 weeks to construct, 48 hours to install and is five tonnes in weight.

To view more about the sculpture, visit Fox's website.

Image credit: Chris Fox.

Waterlitch, Studio Roosegaarde

Highlighting the importance of water conservation and rising sea levels, Studio Roosegaarde’s Waterlicht is designed as a ‘virtual flood’ to remind visitors about the importance, impact and potential of water. Waterlicht's dreamy landscape looks similar to the ethereal structure of the Aurora Borealis and last year, was cast into the atmosphere of cities all over the world, most recently appearing in Toronto to showcase the rising water levels around the city’s shoreline. Made from a combination of lenses and LEDs, Waterlicht floats upon visitors’ heads creating a sapphire layer of light which moves and fluctuates when exposed to the ever-changing elements.

To view more of the studio’s work, visit their website.

Video credit: Studio Roosegarde


Dieter Cöllen's cork architectural models

German designer, Dieter Cöllen, creates cork-based models of ancient buildings, carving the material in minute detail to illustrate the splendour of ancient architecture.

Carving buildings and ruins of Roman, Greek and Egyptian architecture, Cöllens’s work has been exhibited across the globe in exhibitions, museums and private collections. His detailing of the texture of stone demonstrates how cork can be used to create exquisite models which blur the lines between art and architecture.

To view more of Cöllens’s work, click here.

Image credit: Dieter Cöllens.

Algaculture, BurtonNitta

Algaculture is a speculative design project by BurtonNitta exploring the relationship between humans and algae. The project envisages a future where our biology will be enhanced with algae living inside and outside our bodies, allowing us to be semi-photosynthetic. BurtonNitta envision algae covering the outside of our skin, making our physiology ‘plant-like’ by gaining energy from sunlight. Consequently, humans and algae will depend on each other for survival and develop a symbiotic relationship.

Video credit: BurtonNitta

Matt Shlian's paper sculptures

Matt Shlian designs geometric paper sculptures which are influenced by the detailed forms of Islamic tile patterns, solar cells, music and biomimetics. Shilian uses a variety of papers depending on the project; for his white sculptures he uses an acid free paper called Foxriver Coronado, and for his coloured sculptures he uses Colorplan and Canson. He uses PVA glue and needle point dispensers which gives the paper the ability to fold. Shilan has learnt to make his sculptures by experimentation and takes things apart to then put them together again. “Getting something wrong is way more important to learning that copying something perfectly,” he says.

To view more of his work, visit his website.

Image credit: Matt Shlian

Coal: Post: Fuel at London Design Biennale

At this year’s London Design Biennale, Sweden exhibited Coal: post-fuel exploring a speculative future of coal. The project presented a future alternative use of coal, with the aim to give visitors the opportunity to see and think about the material differently. Designed by London-based designer, Jesper Eriksson, the exhibition exposed the material’s raw beauty, transforming it (from material often thought of as cheap and dirty), into one that resembles shiny black marble. Eriksson’s installation consists of furniture, floor and sculptural pieces all of which are solely made out of coal.

To view more of Jesper Eriksson’s work, click here.

Image credit: Ed Reeve


Uli Kirchler’s kinetic wooden castles

Uli Kirchler’s work appears like a smooth piece of wood, but with a flick of a wrist, pop-up wooden castles instantly launch out from his wooden blocks.

Using wood from Oregan and California, Kirchler initially dries the wood, then carves pop-up towers into it which he calls his ‘Very Hidden Castles.’

Kirchler's kinetic sculptural forms are developed via a process of carefully carving multi-story buildings that collapse and expand into the burls of wood when moved up and down.

You can see more of Kirchler 's designs in action on his Instagram page.

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Smile Plastics: material crafted from waste plastic

Smile Plastics is a London-based design studio making hand-crafted panels from a range of waste materials. The studio use PVC-based plastic packaging and coffee waste to make materials that can be used for both residential, creative and commercial spaces. Designer Ineke Hans’ chopping boards are made from Smile Plastic’s recycled material and were originally designed for an installation in the garden pavilion of the Dutch Royal Palace Soestdijk. 

Image credit: Smile Plastics

Daan Roosegaarde's PRESENCE

Daan Roosegaarde's latest installation 'PRESENCE' is a phosphorescent landscape that changes colour and shape as visitors walk through it. Inspired from the environmental art of the 60s and 70s, Roosengaarde’s immersive piece illustrates humanity’s relationship with the environment and how all of our behaviours impact and influence the well-being of the planet.

When entering PRESENCE, visitors experience various alterations in perspective — from the changes in lighting level to the diverse objects they meet throughout the space. As they move around PRESENCE, their movements disappear to make room for new ones, symbolising humanity’s impact on Earth.

To view more about the project, click here.

Video credit: Studio Roosegaarde


Architects of Air, Daedalum

Situated by the Royal Albert Dock from the 21st to the 23rd of June, Architects of Air presented one of their cathedral-like structures — Daedalum — an immersive experience of colour, sound and light. Exhibited as part of the part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and London Festival of Architecture, Daedalum is inspired from geometrical forms and sculptural patterns found in nature. 

Architects of Air have been designing towering walk-in sculptures since 1992 that have been exhibited across 40 countries. Founded by designer Alan Parkinson, Architects of Air have built several architectural structures, and each piece has its own unique maze of egg-like domes and winding paths which is fashioned from thin PVC-based plastic.

Daedalum is named after the Greek Mythological story of Daedalus, the architect of the Labyrinth of Minos (built to imprison the Minotaur). Daedalum is designed to create mysterious meandering paths and tunnels resembling King Minos’ Labyrinth. As daylight radiates through the structure, it illuminates the coloured parts of its architecture and visitors inside are saturated with the ever-changing coloured hues. 

To view more about the project, visit Architect of Air’s website

Image credit: Stephen Wright

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Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir's Chromo Sapiens

For the 2019 Venice Biennale, Icelandic artist Shoplifter (Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir) has designed a multi-sensory space in an empty warehouse which is overgrown with brightly coloured synthetic hair.  

The installation called ‘Chromo Sapiens’ blurs the line between visual art, fashion and theatre; and it references Shoplifter’s interest in pop culture and rural Iceland’s tectonic beauty.  The installation is made up of three different chambers; and hair tumbles down in each cave-like room, inviting viewers to critique the role of textiles in interior space.

Arnardóttir’s Chromo Sapiens is exhibited at the Venice Biennale until 4th November, 2019.

Image credit: Ugo Carmeni


Susanna Bauer’s crocheted leaf art

Using the most meticulous precision, UK-based designer Susanna Bauer crocheters tiny patterns into dried magnolia leaves. Using a fine needle to pierce the fragile plant matter, Bauer crocheters cotton thread into the golden-coloured material either tying a couple of leaves together to create a sculpted form, or embroidering a single leaf.  Some of Bauer’s embroidery resembles cobwebs, whilst others appear as part of the leaf’s skeletal structure; and her work reflects the vulnerability yet resilience of nature, and tension and tenderness of humankind’s relationship with it.

To view more of her work, visit her website and her Instagram page.

Image credit: Susanna Bauer


A.R.D Bakery’s geometrical cakes

A.R.D Bakery is the work of London-based artist and baker, Alison Dunlop. Dunlop creates geometrical eye-popping cakes inspired by graphic design and the planets in our Universe. Crafting her architectural cakes with all things sweet, Dunlop creates colourful pom poms, crescents and spheres which she places on her hand-painted cake tiers.

To learn more about her work, visit The Jealous Curator’s website.

Image credit: Alison Dunlop


Joshua Abarbanel's wooden sculptures

Exploring nature's ever-changing patterns and the contrast between natural and mechanical forms, Joshua Abarbanel creates wooden sculptures bursting with floral motifs. Using a laser cutter as his tool, instead of water and seedlings, Abarbanel’s curled and curvaceous earth-coloured forms looks as though they have grown organically, sprouting bark instead of petals. Reflecting both the macro and microscopic patterns found in various plant species, Abarbanel’s precisely cut layers of timber reflect the randomness, yet perfect symmetry found in natural forms.

To view more of his work, click here.

Image credit: Joshua Abarbanel

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Tom Hegen’s Ice Pattern series

Taking his photographs 250 meters above the ground, photographer Tom Hegen has captured the detailed patterns of a frozen lake in Germany. The icy blue and white patterns and textures resemble the swirling structure of a marble surface. To photograph his abstract landscape pieces, Hegen uses a self-built drone which allows him to capture a bird’s eye view of the natural landscapes. Hegen’s book Habitat explores the geological age, documenting how humans have impacted the world's atmospheric processes and how climate change has altered the appearance of natural landscapes.

To view more of his work, click here.

Image credit: Tom Hegen

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GroCycle grows mushrooms from waste coffee grounds

As featured in the V&A exhibition, Food Bigger than Plate, GroCycle’s Urban Mushroom Farm is an urban agricultural project based in Exeter, UK. Here, GroCycle’s team have transformed an office building into a mushroom farm, in the heart of Exeter’s city centre. The team collects hundreds of kilos of used coffee grounds from cafes in the surrounding area and uses the waste material as a fertiliser to grow oyster mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are fully grown, GroCycle delivers them to food outlets in the South West of England.

To view more about GroCycle, visit their website.

Image credit: GroCycle


Gabriel Isak’s Disintegration

Swedish photographer Gabriel Isak’s cool-coloured cryptic photographs look as though you’re peering into someone else’s dreams. His ‘psychoanalytical approach’ to photography has influenced the production of his melancholy scenes and the motionless faceless figures which haunt them. His anonymous subject’s reflect the unconscious, and his dreamy work questions the depths of existence, inviting us to reflect back on our feelings and the unconscious processes that might be driving them.

To view more of his work, visit his website or check out his Instagram.

Image credit: Gabriel Isak


Interwoven, Diana Scherer

Diana Scherer explores humankind’s desire to control natural systems by manipulating plant roots as if they were yarn. Collaborating with material scientists and biologists, Scherer intervenes in the natural network of plant root systems to construct a textile-like material. I first saw Scherer's work at the V&A's Fashioned from Nature exhibition and I was taken a aback by the detail and originality of her project.

In constructing Interwoven, Scherer designs art nouveau-inspired patterns for plant roots to weave their way through. Scherer tests diverse plant and grass species, researching how well each species responds to her carefully constructed environment. Once the roots have woven through the design, the textile is dried, taking its final form. The natural material can be applied to interior design objects and currently, Scherer is furthering her textile research and collaborating with scientists at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

To view more of Scherer's work, visit her website.

Image credit: Anna Marks

Futurelab: biodesign will save our planet

Atelier Aitken is a design company envisioning how we can re-naturalized the earth. They've created some great projects, from tequila chandeliers to biodesign exhibitions, and their ‘futurelab’ department is developing forward-thinking solutions using biotechnology and virtual and augmented reality to address the future of our built environment. The integration of these technologies will birth developments that don’t rely on fossil fuels while harnessing living materials cultured by tissues and plants. 

Projects include: bacteria activating sandstone and erosion control, living buildings with vertical food cultivation, zero carbon housing, algae processing as a food source, 3D printed modular bio-panels, chemical-free hydrogel membrane, bioluminescent lighting suspension pods. To check out all their projects click here.

Video credit: Atelier Aitken


Origami-inspired sculpture lights up Columbus

Situated next to Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, 'Synergia' is an architectural project made by Professor Jiangmei Wu and the students at IU School of Art, Architecture, and Design in Bloomington. Built as a biomimetic polyhedron with interlocking layers, the installation is made out of translucent laser cut plastic sheets and assembled similarly to the way Lego is slotted into place.

Each of the plastic sheets forms 500 polyhedrons, which are 2-4 feet long creating a hexagonal shape. A frequent aesthetic in natural designs, hexagonal shapes are found in the cells bees produce, and the compact eyes of an insect.

Image credit: Tony Vasquez

Tattooing mushrooms

Theresa Schubert is an experimental artist based in Berlin and I'm particularly interested in her project 'Growing Geometries - tattooing mushrooms.' Here, Schubert tattooed geometrical patterns onto growing fungi, then observed how the patterns changed over time as the mushrooms grew.

The project investigates how imagery can be altered by natural processes and how the tattooed drawings change as the fungi’s membranes change. As Schubert says, "The mushrooms are tattooed when they are still small. While the fruiting body is growing, the shape of the mushroom membrane expands - hence the tattooed image changes as well." The project investigates the growth processes of our changing society- how patterns and imagery change as we do.

Video credit: Theresa Schubert

Artist spends 30 days in total darkness

Bryan Saunders just spent the last 30 days totally blind. In his latest art project, he illustrated various abstract art pieces and self-portraits over the course of a month which depict his experience of being cast into darkness and his observations around him. His hearing became fine-tuned, his senses heightened, and his illustrations depict his boredom, frustration and his altered sense of time and space. I interviewed Bryan a while ago about his other experimental projects- check it out here