“Habitat One” presents a concept for a new type of “shelter”, a sustainable housing solution for what has been called Generation One: the first to live in a carbon-neutral society. Within this context, a multidisciplinary team led by ecoLogicStudio’s founders Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, created Tree One, a 10-meter-tall living sculpture, commissioned by Hyundai Motor.
One of the most significant aspects of contemporary technological evolution is its inevitable convergence with living nature. “In the Anthropocene age, non-human intelligence and artificial life are emerging as the critical forces shaping our future. As a species, we are therefore on the verge of a cognitive precipice: learn to think differently or go extinct,” says Claudia Pasquero.
At the center of the exhibition space and spanning two floors is Tree One, a 10-meter-tall carbon-sinking sculpture designed by artificial intelligence and bio-digitally grown. With the same capturing potential of a mature tree, Tree One re-metabolizes and stores carbon molecules into its trunk and canopy while releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
In the Tree One project, artificial and biological intelligence are combined. Its main structure is a 3D Voxel grid developed by a trained AI algorithm through which the recognition of arboreal systems negotiates the logic of the architectural column, the original archetype of the shelter.
Tree One is robotically “grown” with algae-based biopolymers. The robotically printed trunk supports the inoculation of living photosynthetic microalgae cultures into eight glass reactors with no additional structural reinforcement. Its strengths derive solely from the unique pleated morphology of the fibrous trunks of actual trees. The fibrous system then continues in the large 3D printed canopy, hovering above the gallery floor.
The microalgae (Cyanidium caldarium) contained in the trunk structure will capture CO2 and store it as biomass, which in turn provides raw material for Tree One’s biopolymeric structure. Fresh oxygen is also released within the Hyundai Motorstudio exhibition space, thus closing the carbon cycle.
Finally, the high-resolution 3D printed canopy of Tree One acts as a carbon sink, trapping the captured CO2 molecules into its ornamental structure and shading an area of more than 25 square meters.
The production of Tree One as a carbon neutral and zero waste structure required the setting up of a global information system capable of running a remote fabrication process involving four industrial robots and 20 large-scale 3D printing machines.
Moreover, a custom software and hardware was developed to adjust the morphology and the printing process in order to eliminate the need for support material as well as to accommodate the material properties of algae-based biodegradable polymers.
“What if automotive technology is used to manufacture a synthetic tree? Tree One is the testimony of the dawn of a new technological era, pollution and waste free, carbon neutral. An era in which the contemporary digital and robotic infrastructure is repurposed to fabricate or grow soft, wet, living, bio-digital architectures,” says Marco Poletto.
Tree One is on show alongside PhotoSynthEtica Walk, a microalgae promenade of photobioreactors, and H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g.
Installed along the glass façade of Hyundai Motorstudio Busan, PhotoSynthEtica Walk aims at demonstrating how architecture can be retrofitted into a photosynthetic system capable of supporting future lifestyles of self-sufficiency. PhotoSynthEtica Walk is an algae garden consisting of 42 customized glass photobioreactors. It invites individuals, families and communities to cultivate an urban source of vegetable proteins. It was conceived as an indoor architectural promenade where visitors will be able to experience the new habits and practices of Generation One, the first generation to achieve a org-zero carbon balance in the atmosphere.
The final element of this landscape of photosynthetic architectures created by ecoLogicStudio in Busan is H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g. Originally commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in 2019 and exhibited at the MAK Museum in Vienna, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and at the Fundación Telefónica in Madrid, H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g is a large-scale, high-resolution 3D printed biotechnological sculpture receptive to both human and non-human life.
The exhibition shows its architectural incarnation as a PhotoSynthetica Tower, a high-density metropolitan cluster able to support urban re-metabilization. This visionary tower deploys its sheer scale to promote a significant microclimatic effect on the prevailing winds, generating enough draft and turbulence to force both natural seeds and air polluting particles through its metabolic air purifying skin. The architecture literally mines carbon and other minerals from the air to turn pollution into raw material for a number of biofabrication and gardening processes taking place within.