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Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022

Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022, 'Cycles' curated by Pedro Alonso, and Pamela Prado, Collaboration with Lydia Kallipoliti

In 2016, Lydia Kallipoliti and Tope Olujobi produced 41 feedback drawings of historical living systems that illustrated the cycling of resources and material provisions in a visual field of environmental conditions. Rather than idealizing encirclement, the drawings problematized the language of environmental representation by illustrating loss, derailment, and the production of new substances. In a new iteration for the Lisbon Triennale of 2022, the five feedback drawings have exploded in time and in space. Together with Youngbin Shin, Kallipoliti has brought the living prototypes to the present. They are now not only informed by advanced technologies and infrastructure, but also by a nuanced understanding of the connection between bodies and their surrounding environments. Bodies and buildings are both seen as vessels of fluids fostering visceral and literal connections of kinship and care. Lastly, the figure of man is displaced by female bodies that are draining, leaking, lactating and menstruating; also by non-human bodies, constellations of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

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THE MENSTRUATING ASTRONAUT

There is no question that the language of space exploration has exclusively focused on the “well-shaped man” featured in the role of the explorer. Paradigmatic of Western thought, the Vitruvian man has been recurrently used by NASA and other space agencies to promote the “well-shaped man” and its center of the naval or omphalos, which has dominated perceptions of beauty, balance, and harmony. All other bodies have been historically excluded and marginalized. With the premise of NASA’s Artemis project to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon -- using innovative technologies to explore the lunar surface-, in this revision, we propose a suit as a total microenvironment for a menstruating female astronaut. Her body and its various forms of “leakage” (in the form of blood, estrogen, sweat, and even lactation in some cases) become a testbed for recycling biological waste through chemical reactions in a co-efficiency with the nurturing of plants and the cultivation of nutrients for other non-human bodies. The monthly cycle of blood is contained and redistributed to test experimental fertilizers for algal water and plants, given that blood contains phosphates, sodium, and iron. Made from thin tubes and pockets that regulate flow of diverse bodily fluids, the suit also collects biosamples for stem cell research. The astronaut’s backpack carries layers of bio-sand filters to purify collected sweat and tears and redistribute them through pipes integrated into the suit to be filtered and reprocessed.

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THE HOUSE THAT DECOMPOSES AND THEN 3D PRINTS ITSELF 

The Earth Workshop represented the bucolic dream of municipal withdrawal in the early 1970s, exploring the possibilities of life support as a political statement to detach from the grid of supplies. A group of friends founded the eco-commune and purchased an old vicarage built within a Neolithic circle in Llandeussant, Whales, an ancient settlement on the west end of the Brecon Beacons. Energy autonomy came at a high cost, nevertheless, as the house needed constant maintenance; the old walls were crumbling. Moreover, daily labor to feed all life-support systems was crippling. In many ways, the ecosystem of the house was linked to the community of its stakeholders, and supported by repetitive routines like sorting, composting, mixing mulch for vegetation and animal-feed crops. In the newer version of the Earth Workshop, the decomposition of the neolithic envelope is augmented with biodegradable catalysts and complemented by a 3d printer that builds around and upon the existing walls. The Earth House is printed from  indigenous sourced materials and is in constant construction and rehabilitation. As the older structure decays and is slowly removed, the house rebuilds itself in a choreography of robotic arms, drones that detect the aging of materials and portable 3D printers and plants. The cohabitation and interdependency of humans, organic life, and machines is a synchronic and coordinated act manifest in harvesting vegetables, drones detecting the 3D printing process, and plants moved around to control oxygen and humidity levels.

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TRANSSPECIES WELLNESS

The Ark of Cape Cod, one of several arks built by the New Alchemists in 1970s, was a lifeboat of biological diversity and autonomy, consisted of three main greenhouse-covered ponds, which together produced a water recycling system of interconnecting vessels. Each pond would feed the other through the strategic rerouting of its constituents: one pond contained fish for protein, whereas its water was cycled into another, which acted as a filter. Within a different pond, water passed through crushed shells and bacteria to detoxify waste and chemicals produced by the fish. Algae-eating crustaceans, and water was purified, as well as enriched with nutrients when cycled back. In the new version, the symbiotic relationship between humans, fish, algae, and other microorganisms is maintained and enhanced via mechanical infrastructure that regulates moisture, temperature, and light to support the microclimates needed to store solar heat and water supply for agriculture. What changes is the envelope which now becomes an active recirculatory algae system of the intake/output pump tubes. Rather than an inert shell that seals the induced microclimates, the shell is now the main monitoring device of issuing healthy green algae, which not only produce oxygen but also turn to powder for soil to grow the plants, create a spirulina sauna pool that provides minerals to humans, and nutrients eaten by animals and fish in aquaponics ponds. The coexistence of humans and animals as active agents of the facility’s cycle is evident both in the consumption of plants grown from algae and in the use of wellness infrastructure, like the algae sauna. In this cycle, oxygen becomes abundant, keeping humidity levels fit for the growth and wellbeing of different species.

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INFLATABLE ALGAE CIRCULATOR

The most characteristic archival photographs of BIOS-3, when the facility started its operation in 1972, are the ones with enclosed human subjects that were surveyed behind circular airlocks. These circular windows visualized the sealed atmosphere of the living experiment and rendered the perimeter of the facility as a critical barrier not to be penetrated at any cost; at the same time, they rendered the crew as an object of observation, monitoring, and experimentation. With BIOS 3, bodies were no longer outside the biological preserve of the experiment. With our new version of BIOS-3, the impenetrable enclosure becomes an inflatable tubular footprint in plan, where algal matter, minerals and filtered water circulate. Thickening the perimeter allows the circular apparatus to nourish and provide life-support, both for humans (that are enclosed inside, along with all the BIOS-3 mechanical equipment), as well as for non-humans outside of the facility. Inside, humans dwell above the mechanical rooms, while their mechanical energy is used for power generation within the facility. Outside, controlled leakage from the inflatable algae circulator allows for the development of new ecosystems, while planted surfaces
produce oxygen under the bubbly envelope and food for humans; these resources return back inside.

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EPCOT’S DIRTY FOOTPRINT

Walt Disney’s dream project, EPCOT, was the epitome of controlled environments, where pollution control, trash recycling, and the regulation of electrical and ventilation systems would free inhabitants from the burden of labor. It was to be a world where the lawn was somehow always groomed to perfection. In the revised version of EPCOT, Disney’s pre-engineered fantasy is muddied, whereas the unspoiled, groomed, and manicured stage set becomes dirtier to enable the coexistence of different species. EPCOT’s iconic Utilidor HVAC system is now unearthed and divided into solid waste and sewage channels with pneumatic tubes. The sewage circular ecosystem is redesigned with reprocessing and filtering pockets and constructed to leak; orchestrated leakage creates ponds at different sites to feed roaming animals and allow for the development of diverse ecosystems. The solid trash collection and distribution utilidor system remains underground, in a network of tunnels, but the sparks of its electrical and mechanical wiring, form a series of holographic butterflies and spirals of light beams generated by the mechanical movement trash circulation. New spectacles are enabled from excremental resource recirculation, contributing to the decarbonization of EPCOT.

Youngbin Shin

Architecture