The IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the Indianapolis Museum of Art will co-sponsor a free public lecture on “living architecture” by TED Fellow Rachel Armstrong on October 30 at 7pm. The event, part of the IAHI’s Lecture & Performance Series and the IMA’s STEM to STEAM Lecture Series, will take place at 7pm in the DeBoest Lecture Hall at the IMA. Reserve your free tickets below.
Rachel Armstrong is Co-Director of AVATAR (Advanced Virtual and Technological Architectural Research) in Architecture & Synthetic Biology at The School of Architecture & Construction, University of Greenwich, London. Senior TED Fellow, and Visiting Research Assistant at the Centre for Fundamental Living Technology, Department of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark. Rachel is a sustainability innovator who investigates a new approach to building materials called ‘living architecture,’ that suggests it is possible for our buildings to share some of the properties of living systems. She works collaboratively across disciplines to build and develop prototypes that embody her approach.
Dr. Armstrong was a member of the RESCUE “Collaboration between the natural, social and human sciences in global change research” Working Group, an interdisciplinary body of European experts making recommendations to the EU for strategic investment in interdisciplinary/scientific research of climate change. She was also part of the TARPOL report Targeting environmental pollution with engineered microbial systems, for the European Commission which will be published by Wiley this year. In 2011 Rachel was named as one of the top ten UK innovators by Director Magazine, featured in the top ten ‘big ideas, 10 original thinkers’ for BBC Focus Magazine, and selected as one of BMW/Wired’s Change Accelerators. She has also just released a TED Book on Living Architecture.
“Scientists need to work outside their own areas of expertise to make new technologies that are pertinent to the 21st century and to collaborate, both with other scientific disciplines and the arts and humanities.”
Dr. Armstrong innovates and designs sustainable solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies such as, Synthetic Biology – the rational engineering of living systems – and smart chemistry. Her research prompts a reevaluation of how we think about our homes and cities and raises questions about sustainable development of the built environment. She creates open innovation platforms for academia and industry to address environmental challenges such as carbon capture & recycling, smart ‘living’ materials and sustainable design.
Dr. Armstrong’s work includes the study of protocells. Protocells are a form of organic hardware that is not technically ‘alive’ since they do not possess any DNA. Yet they are capable of life-like behaviour that draws from the self-organizing potential of their ingredients. In keeping with Stuart Kauffman’s notion of ‘order for free,’ the protocells are equipped with remarkable, emergent properties such as, movement, sensitivity and the production of microstructures.
While protocells have numerous engineering applications, which Dr. Armstrong explains in this short video, ‘Toward a Living Architecture’.
Dr. Armstrong is also interested in investigating the artistic potential of new materials, working collaboratively with specialists in the arts and humanities. With the architect Philip Beesley and the cybernetic engineer Rob Gorbet, she participated in the Hylozoic Ground installation shown at the Venice Biennale in 2010. The group enlarged protocells and encased them in flasks, which were distributed throughout a lattice of small transparent acrylic meshwork designed by Beesley and Gorbet. The protocells performed like smell and taste receptors, sensing carbon dioxide produced by people in the gallery. When carbon dioxide was present, the protocells changed from blue to green or pink to purple. See a video of the installation here:
In addition to her other accomplishments, Dr. Armstrong has given a number of TED and TEDx talks. Her talk, “Architecture that Repairs Itself,” will be featured at TEDxIndianapolis on October 22.
TEDFellows Talk: Creating Carbon Negative Architecture
TEDFellows Talk: Architecture that Repairs Itself
Get you free tickets to see Rachel Armstrong’s lecture on October 30 at 7pm at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.