This feature has been created in collaboration with urbanNext, a multi-platform aimed at developing, disseminating and distributing content centered on architecture through a focus on the contemporary human milieu and its challenges. Architizer features a weekly discussion from urbanNext’s journals to support its investigation of urban conditions and innovations facing the architectural profession today.
How do you design for future cities tackling both the challenges of the present and those projected for the future? For Terreform ONE, a multidisciplinary architecture group, the answer lies within empowering and reconfiguring native systems with new technologies.
UrbanNext’s editor Ricardo Devesa sat down with Terreform ONE’s founding principal in the nonprofit’s office-cum-laboratory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to talk about the eco-urban-conscious firm’s philosophy and upcoming projects.
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The group’s experimental outputs often appear as strange and unfamiliar to the way we currently structure our lives and environments, with projects such as a livable foam “pod,” equipped with irrigation and agricultural functionality, or a cricket farming shelter proposing a radical new meaning to the phrase “farm-to-table.” However, inherent within each prototype is a deep understanding of the world’s ecological, biological and even anthropological codes.
The Cricket Shelter Modular Edible Insect Farm developed by Terreform ONE is an urban-farming prototype, which positions urban cricket farming as a possible solution to the waning global food supply.
“At Terreform, we design with life,” says Joachim in the interview, “and that is crucial to our mission; it is a meta-theme on how we approach everything … Designing with life makes sense for the people, and it makes sense for the planet.” For Joachim, “biology is technology,” and this forms the underpinning of each Terreform project seeking to make our ever-densifying cities at once more livable and inclusive and more sustainable at the same time.
For instance, Terreform is currently working on designing “soft-mobility,” that is cars made of soft materials, which can rub up against one another and bump into things and people without causing harm. Inspired by the way wild animals move in packs, the objective is to “think about our population doubling within the next 50 years” and “to think about cities absorbing the impact of new types of transportation and what that transportation might be like.”
Babel Waste Capital, a pop-up project by Terreform ONE in New York City exposing the amount of styrofoam packaging waste
Terreform is not just interested in the structural or material possibilities of mobility, but also in designing the systems that will house them, which reaches to fields such as urban planning and design, with the aim to shape policy and regulations of public transport systems. “Many of our vehicle designs … are essentially a lexicon of ideas for many car companies out there to think about what vehicles could do in the near future for cities to be critical about the next type of vehicles people will be moving around in,” says Joachim, “because most likely people are not gonna be buying cars in the future. As more and more people move into cities, we’re going to rely on public transportation.”
Watch the video for Joachim’s discussion on the breadth and diversity of Terreform’s innovative work, including towers built from styrofoam and living chairs grown from mushrooms.
Words by Joanna Kloppenburg
See more video interviews concerning issues of ecologically oriented urban design on the urbanNext website.
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