In the AI-Generated ‘Symbiotic Architecture,’ Manas Bhatia Envisions an Apartment Complex Within a Live Redwood
Much of the architecture in the Western world relies on sterile materials like steel and concrete and a desire to build upward, with skyscrapers soaring high above the earth. As designs necessarily shift in response to a changing climate, there’s renewed interest in adopting more organic, sustainable approaches to construction that more directly interact with the environment—see these bricks that double as homes for bees and an exploration of Indigenous technologies as examples.
Part of finding alternatives to conventional methods is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, which is the basis of a new series by architect and computational designer Manas Bhatia. Created using the artificial intelligence tool Midjourney, the conceptual renderings of Symbiotic Architecture imagine an apartment complex embedded within towering, live redwoods. “I have always been fascinated by how small insects and creatures create their dwellings in nature,” he told designboom. “Ants, for example, create their dwellings with intricate networks in the soil. If humans could create buildings that grow and breathe like plants do, what an amazing world would that be to live in.”
To produce the drawings, Bhatia entered basic text prompts like “hollowed,” “stairs,” and “tree” into the system, which then generated the enchanting structures. Glass windows and balconies nestle into the grainy bark, with knotty, cavernous entrances at the base. Although the surreal designs are not practically feasible at the moment, they offer a way to more easily envision potential projects. “To give life to such an idea, we’ll have to wait for a long time working our way towards the goal gradually,” Bhatia says, explaining further:
Currently, I am interested in using these images to try to develop a 3D model using AI and modeling software like Rhino and Grasshopper. That is really the first step towards the journey of manifesting this project into reality. Till that time comes, AI will have drastically improved making the entire process much easier than it can be thought of at the moment.
To find more of the designer’s projects both real and imagined, visit Instagram.
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Interview: Production Designer Liz Toonkel Describes Creating the Adorable Universe of ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’
A tiny mollusk with a big personality, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is famous for quirky antics and endlessly entertaining use of human-sized objects. In a new interview supported by Colossal Members, production designer Liz Toonkel discusses building the universe the adorable character occupies in the feature-length mockumentary released this summer from A24.
All of those little details that you wouldn’t think about, when you watch it they give it an inherent truth because everything feels like it does in our real world. Same thing with the garden. Those are real plants. That’s so rare in stop motion that you have real organic materials. It’s pretty much impossible to stop-motion animate with them because they decompose. There was a lot of thought put into how to bring organic, real life to the things around Marcel.
Colossal editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson recently sat down with Toonkel to discuss building a realistic micro world within a macro setting, the challenges of blending live-action with stop-motion animation, and why the tennis ball scenes are as impressive as the internet thinks. Read the full interview here.
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Mimicking the peaks of the surrounding conifers, an A-frame house in Sikhall, Vänersborg, Sweden is designed for entirely self-sufficient living. The largely wood and glass construction is the project of Naturvillan, a Swedish architecture firm focusing on building homes with minimal impacts on the environment.
The triangular model shown here is “Atri,” a light-filled house with a wood-burning stove and solar panels attached to its slanted roof. Intended for energy production in both winter and summer, the two sources are robust enough to heat the water and provide electricity. For added assurance, the home contains another power source in case of extreme weather.
An on-site well also pumps drinking water, with any waste directed to the flower beds for filtering. These raised gardens line the perimeter of the first floor and are large enough to grow fruits and vegetables.
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Although research suggests the ancient Venus figurines were created as totems of survival amid a changing climate, the enigmatic forms continue to puzzle historians, their exact cultural context and relevance unknown. The mysterious statues, with exaggerated physical features like large, distended bellies and generally plump appendages, recently inspired a playful project by Naama Steinbock and Idan Friedman, the designers behind Reddish Studio based in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Titled “Venus of Jaffa,” the series interprets the prehistoric sculptures as lighthearted, impermanent forms. Each figure is structured with a thin, copper frame designed to hold a balloon. Once inflated, the latex—the studio used neutral tones to evoke both flesh and the original earthenware—puffs around the armature to form the supple curves of a female body. In a statement, the studio describes the works, which were originally shown at Jerusalem Design Week 2022:
This project is meant to spark curiosity while referencing both the archeological finds and the way they take part in our current culture with their bespoke museum displays… While the archeological Venus statuettes have survived tens of thousands of years, the new addition to their dynasty is only ephemeral and has the lifespan of a party decoration.
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Olafur Eliasson Designs a Conical Structure with 832 Vibrant Glass Panels That Reflect Sonoma’s Weather
A bold, conical structure stands on The Donum Estate in Sonoma Valley, casting a vibrant kaleidoscope of 24 colors underneath its canopy. The work of Studio Other Spaces—artist Olafur Eliasson (previously) and architect Sebastian Behmann co-founded the Berlin-based project in 2014— “Vertical Panorama Pavilion” is “inspired by the history of circular calendars,” containing 832 glass pieces arranged around an oculus opening to the north.
Drawing on the microclimate of the vineyard, the studio constructed the mosaic of translucent and transparent panels using meteorological measurements of solar radiance, wind intensity, temperature, and humidity. A winding gravel path leads to the outdoor seating area, and as the sun passes over the area, it drenches the brick construction in a full spectrum of color, a contrast to the Northern California landscape.
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Temporarily occupying the site of the ancient Housesteads Roman Gatehouse at Hadrian’s Wall, a vibrant installation by British artist Morag Myerscough recreates the structure that once stood on the bucolic landscape in northern England. “The Future Belongs To What Was As Much As What Is” is a bright, architectural reinterpretation of the 2nd-century building, reaching the same 8.5 meters high and 12.5 meters wide as the original construction. A staircase tucked inside the scaffolding allows visitors to climb to an upper outpost and look over the landscape, offering a view that’s been unavailable for the last 1,600 years.
To create the patchwork, typographic facade, Myerscough collaborated with community members and poet Ellen Moran. Each panel is bright and geometric, and while some reference artifacts found on the site, many contain messages relating to borders, connecting the historic landmark that once defined the edge of the Roman empire to contemporary immigration issues. “We hope that placing such a bold contemporary art installation in this ancient landscape will not only capture people’s imagination but maybe also challenge their ideas of what the wall was for. Not just a means to keep people out, but a frontier that people could— and did—cross,” says Kate Mavor, the chief executive of English Heritage.
The installation opens on July 30 to coincide with the wall’s 1,900th anniversary and will be up through October 30. (via Dezeen)
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