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Alive: BioCities / Fibrous Structures / algae / architecture / cyber-Gardens / landscape / urban design / waterApril 25, 2013

‘HORTUS.PARIS’ is an interactive / living environment installed at the EDF Foundation in Paris as part of the Alive exhibition. Its morphology emerges from the reinvention of one of the archetypes of architecture, the column; imagined here as a living and responsive organism, a photobioreactor of microalgae, it connects floor to ceiling as part of a continuum landscape of growth and interaction, from photosynthesis to harvest. Installed within a mirror room it offers to the visitor an immersive experience within an otherworldly environment, an architectural colonnade made of living biological substances in continuous motion and exchange.

This bio-architectural hybrid is designed to stimulate the emergence of novel material practices and related spatial narratives; in this sense HORTUS.PARIS proposes an experimental, hands-on engagement with the notion of self-sufficiency, radicalizing its applicability to the planning of large urban or architectural landscapes.


The so called proto-garden hosts micro -algal organisms [chlorella vulgaris] and is fitted with ambient light, sensing technologies and a custom-designed virtual interface. Flows of energy (artificial light radiation), matter (biomass, carbon dioxide) and information (tweets) are triggered during the four-month exhibition period, inducing multiple mechanisms of self-regulation and evolution of novel forms of self-organisation. Visitors are invited to engage daily with HORTUS.PARIS; as algal organisms require carbon dioxide to grow, visitors are invited to contribute to the survival of the installation by activating an air pump system inside the photo-bioreactors, adjusting their nutrients’ content; oxygen is released as a result, feeding the algae growth until it percolates onto a filtering surface on the ground.

Data flows daily through ‘HORTUS’, feeding its emergent virtual garden, accessible via smartphones; its virtual plots are nurtured by the flow of tweets posted by each visitor, locally and globally – a virtual sedimentation process enriching the direct material experience of the visitor turned urban ‘cyber-gardener’ and building a new form of distributed spatial memory of collective urban ecology.

Presented at: "Alive: New Design Frontiers", 26 April - 1 September 2013
Client: Espace Fondation EDF, Paris, France

Curator: Carle Collet
Design: ecoLogicStudio

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