Photosynthetic Architecture suggests that a non-anthropocentric mode of reasoning and deployment of cutting-edge technologies based on digital and biological intelligence could be at the core of urban design. Powered by solar energy, Photosynthetic Architecture aims to integrate living microalgae and artificial intelligence within architectural systems to re-metabolise carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollutants from the urban atmosphere, while increasing levels of visual interaction between pollutants, microorganisms and urban dwellers.
A total of 13 experimental projects involved cross-disciplinary engagement with marine biologists, algae farmers, interactive designers, computational experts, manufacturers and city municipalities in the development of 1:1 testing of wetware, software and hardware. Collectively, they investigate the materials and conceptual consequences of the integration of microalgae in the built environment. Coupling algal growth with building operations affords a renewed level of efficiency and proposes a crucial transition in the architectural paradigm, whereby the urban environment is no longer a container of programmes or functions, as in Le Corbusier’s modernist ideal of ‘a machine for living’ (Le Corbusier 1927), but instead becomes a dynamic process of production, a ‘living machine’.