The STEMcloud v2.0 project proposes the development and testing of an architectural prototype operating as an oxygen making machine. The project has been presented and designed for the SEVILLE ART and ARCHITECTURAL BIENNALE 2008.
STEMcloud v2.0 will operate as a breeding ground for micro-ecologies found in the local river of Seville, the Guadalquivir, and will involve the public in the breeding process. The transparency and porosity of the architectural system allows the process to be visually and materially exposed and interfere with the microclimate of the gallery; the public will feed the colonies present in the river water with nutrients, light and CO2 and as a result oxygenate the gallery space; the growth process will be triggered by patterns of interaction with the public and in turn will affects these patterns with its visual effects. Multiple feedback cycles are provoked within the components of the system, with the gallery environment and within the city itself.
This extended model of systemic architecture can be framed and understood in cybernetic terms as a multilayer crossing of feedback loops; cybernetics provides an operational framework to deal with change and transformation, the two main defining qualities of our new ecologic understanding of architecture; the starting point of the experiment is artificially defined by us and provides what scientist call a primed condition necessary to promote interaction.
_the cybernetic loops
The basic cybernetic set for the Seville experiment includes 3 components: the urban environments (the river ecology and the gallery space), the architectural machine (STEMcloud) and human behavior (the visitors). These systems are multilayered and diverse and they will interact in a variety of ways: in this sense we can consider the experiment as complex and the outcome of it unpredictable. It is impossible to tell what kind of equilibrium will emerge within each of the 3 systems; what kind of algae ecologies will grow? how will visitors be reacting to them?
In the impossibility of control the experiment is about communication: STEMcloud is organized to allow and promote communication among the systems in such a way that a conversation/learning process could emerge. Visitors will be transformed in ecologists, the STEM blocks into microhabitats, the gallery into an oxygenating garden or, perhaps, laboratory.The priming of the system and the channels of communication between systems have been carefully designed and engineered and can be summarized as a series of feedback loops within the more generic cybernetic set previously described.
machinic feedback cycle 1+organic growth in relationship to radiation field+Wide spectrum light is positioned strategically to generate a radiation field, kept constant in time. Algae growth is stimulated by the field and will respond to it; feedback arises while each block develops his own internal equilibrium.
machinic feedback cycle 2+organic growth in relationship to nutrients concentration+Nutrients are inserted into the system to prime its starting condition. More active blocks will consume more nutrients and grow faster. Overgrown blocks will be more opaque to light affecting the radiation field. Coordination between nutrient and radiation will push the differentiation further.
machinic feedback cycle 3+oxygenation to frequency of use+Photosynthetic activity will be monitored live and visually fed back to the user. More active block will signal the need to be fed with CO2 provided by the user. Users will respond to visual clues (LED intensity) and trigger modifications with their action.
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