Vincent Callebaut
Paris 2007
The hypothesis Gaïa, theory initially announced by James Lovelock en 1969, but also exposed by Johannes Kepler from the 17th century, declares that the totality of the living terrestrial material on earth (or on every planet on which life developed) works as a huge organism (called Gaïa, according to the name of the Greek goddess) owning an autoregulation that adjusts permanently the planet to its needs. If this type of autoregulation system currently exists on earth or not, this is still in debate! The notion of biosphere expressed by Vladimir Vernadsky in 1924 went in that sense. Actually, he was the first to envisage the impact of the deforestation on the climate. He was however little not much listened when we thought that the nature was equipped with endless abilities of regeneration.

The Biosphere is the auto-maintained global ecologic system (« autocatalytic ») that integrates all the living beings and the relationships they weave together and with the compartments that are the lithosphere (the rocks), the hydrosphere (the water) and the atmosphere (the air) in a metabolism that continuously changes the surface of earth by recycling or storing the elements and by creating complexity and neguentropy where without life there would be only entropy. The Archibiotics presented in this chapter study to a prospective point of view the complexity of the world and give the hypothesis of the creation of genetically codified architectures (AGC) as much in their constructive materials as in their mechanisms of functioning and humanly managed by SIG and dynamic modelling. The objective is to identify new processes of spatial growth as well as morphologies or associated anamorphoses. In perpetual renewing of its tissues and its networks, these prototypes by anabolic metaphor consume and produce energy for their birth, life and death and participate thus to the reactions of the worldwide biosphere.


Imagine the development of a project as a process that would develop on a ineluctable way from few parameters initially set up and carrying on the consequences via time factors, has a high resonance with the growth processes of natural, animal, vegetable or mineral organisms. The shapes are more complex with the action of algorithmic developments and changes into constructive structure. From the projects of geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller inspired from the radiolarian micro-structures to the thesis «On Growth and Form» expressed by the biologist and mathematician D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the study of the natural organisms is an endless source to redefine the design processes.

The evolution of the scientific world enables moreover today to discover and understand the infinitely small or infinitely big, zooming in or de-zooming in to the vertigo from the smallest cells of our body to the satellite visions of our galaxy. Moreover, small micron at the light-year going through «Google Earth», all the architectures of the micro or macroscopic organic bodies inspire much the architect that I am by the laws of the creation and bring me to explore new symbiotic spatialities. Since even, a tangent attitude would be simply to impulse processes by putting them on and leaving them going and then controlling their development. Inversion or restructuring, acceleration or delay-action, the absorption of the exterior conditions make evolve these organic Archibiotics: dampness, temperature, air pressure, density of CO2, eco-systemic profile.

The first project designed as a living being is «Elasticity, an aquatic city of 50.000 inhabitants” and totally “autonomous”. The project answers to its own internal necessity of vital thrust by impregnation of the aquatic site. The prototype-city is born, lives and dies by a cycle of organic formations. At the basis, the elasticity of this living architecture, dilating and contracting according to its demographic rate and its depth of marine bottoms, comes from synthetic materials. But along its morphogenesis (i.e. the setting up of the organs that are responsible of its structure and its inhabitants), the elastomers are replaced via crystallization and fossilisation by marine micro-organisms tending to naturalise in one tower of coral massif. The biologic replace thus the synthetic by bio-deterioration! The project of the «Ecocoons», true markers of recycling the polluted components of the landscapes in which they are implanted (maritime, rural, industrial and urban), integrate also the internal organisation as a true metabolism ingesting, digesting and rejecting after bio-deteriorated the flows in the site. These are true physionic projects experiencing on one hand the living architectures equipped with organs, nervous, lymphatic and vascular systems, tendons, muscles and retroactions cycles and by studying on the other hand the functioning (metabolism) still built in interaction with the environment.

Aiming more at an organic, vernacular and flexible development in their urban organisation, a second type of projects such as «Floating Islands» in Hammerfest, «Nomadic Gardens» in Manhattan or the «Metamuseum of Arts and Civilizations» in Paris, tries to propose nomad urbanisations of open, multidirectional and mobile nature. Thus, islets of housing, garden-wagons and exhibition-boats deviate from the central project so as to spread out and reformat according to many spatial configurations regarding the social context.

These are unfinished projects working by cellular agglutination in continuous network that are maritime, aerial, highway or fluvial recalling thus the concept of cellular dynamic expressed by James Stirling: «The application of the orthogonal proposition and the using of basic geometric elements seems to decrease. It is replaced by something that is as variable as the nature. The cellular dynamic is an architecture containing several repetitive or various elements. The assembling of the unit is more seen in terms of growth and change, as a king of crystalline formation or a biological division than a simple adjunction to the static rigidity of a structure in railings.» Each entity is specific but interchangeable, stackable and rechargeable reconfigurating itself as plug-ins and according to « the inexpressible space » of Le Corbusier in which: «The architecture bears living organisms. They present to the space, the light, ramify themselves and extend as a tree or a plant. The freedom is researched around each part.»


The urbanism projects «Neuronal Alien» in Reykjavik, «Landscript» in Geneva and «Urban Corset» in Brussels are based on the principle of indetermination and a diverting open shape, to which we can add, subtract or substitute one of the components. The interaction creates the whole. By going to a point of no return, we discover unusual spaces leaving to the process the benefit of unpredictability. By analogy, it is as these master plans would be planted as tree seeds in the earth. Genetically codified, these seeds would contain the maximum of AND information and the minimum of material to enable the tree not only to grow, to develop its own polygonal and fibrous internal structure, its networks of roots of sap and water, but also to interact with its environment by recycling of the CO2 into O2 by photosynthesis and production of pharmaceutical phylo-molecules and on top of all this by assuring itself its own reproduction.

In these projects, only few generative rules defined from algorithms develop complex three-dimensional geometries. After being generated, these geometries are meant to be infiltrated and polluted by natural processes of resilience nevertheless accelerated by the use of vitaminized materials and enriched in biologic carbonaceous and nitrogenous components. These genetic Archibiotics proliferate and ramify by rhizomes with adventive roots around nodal points of the master plan by weaving progressively their own auto-adapted network, their rhizosphere, new action and influence field, substrate of new ecosystems. Passage from a drawn shape to a indexed shape, the plastic membranes interact and distort themselves according to the flows and the biospheric conditions that cross them. Each local action has a consequence on the global shape re-informing in a real dissolve time and each vector of the index of the Archibiotics.

By organic analogy the structure and its envelope merge under the shape of a complex bearing envelope such as a exoskeleton. Whereas scientific researches try currently to develop biomechanical exoskeletons for medical or industrial needs, the projects of this chapter try to set up systems of mutable, elastic and fluid skin-structure. In the same line as geodesic systems developed in aeronautics for example by the British engineer Sir Barnes Willis with the construction of the airship R100, the surfaces with organic curves are constituted of smallest lines connecting some points that do not need internal structure anymore. As metazoan, the scale of the mesh softening progressively by high rates of iterations assures continuity more and more slick. Contrary to this, these new porous architectures focus their framework density on a heterogenic way iterating or not according to the moments of variable solicitations of the generated shape enabling thus to free themselves from the symmetry. As for the tower «Ecohouse» of the project «Sensuous Geographies» in Dublin or the « inhabited cocoons » of the master plan «Landscript» in Geneva, the deep and living matter of the exoskeleton defines not only the structure but also the spatial organisation. Actually, it defines and organises the functions producing two crossed and separate spaces but generating new sequences and continues horizontally and vertically. From the graphical representation of a diagram of data flows (DFD) through a system of information, the architect can study the interactions between the system and the exterior entities. Far from the Euclidian geometries, the surface-structure is not only an envelope but begins to open out, to subdivide inside the organism and this without assembling or interruption. The structure removes in favour of the continuous space-flow !

Extract text from the architectural monograph "ARCHIBIOTIC, VINCENT CALLEBAUT", Beijing Office - AADCU Editions, Beijing 2008, China,p.160-163