IAAC Workshop: the Internet of People

Barcelona, Spain
22 May 2019

Prix BLOXHUB Interactive Symposium

Copenhagen, Denmark
21 May 2019

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CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, in partnership with global energy company Eni, has developed an architectural structure made of mushrooms, unveiled at Milan Design Week 2019. The installation, called “The Circular Garden,” was grown from soil over six weeks – and will be returned to the soil at the end of the month. It is composed of a series of arches, adding up to a record 1-kilometer-long mycelium, and experiments with sustainable structures that can grow organically and then return to nature in a fully circular way. The project will be showcased during Milan’s Fuorisalone at Brera’s Orto Botanico, the city’s botanical garden.

 

The Circular Garden pushes the boundaries of using mycelium – the fibrous root of mushrooms – in design. In recent years, mycelium has been employed for sustainable packaging and small brick-like objects. The Circular Garden engages with mycelium at the architectural scale – with a series of 60 4-meter-high arches made of mycelium scattered around the Orto Botanico, for a total of 1 kilometer of mushroom.

 

In order to create self-supporting mycelium structures on such a scale, the project takes inspiration from the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. It was he, while designing the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, who resurrected the “inverted catenary” method pioneered in the 18th -century by polymath Giovanni Poleni. According to this method, the best way to create pure compression structures is to find their form using suspended catenaries and then invert them. The same applies to the Circular Garden, where the catenaries compose a series of four architectural “open rooms” scattered throughout the garden.

 

The mycelium was grown in the two months preceding the opening of the Circular Garden with the help of leading experts in the field of mycology – particularly the Dutch Krown.Bio lab. Spores were injected into organic material to start the growth process. In a similarly organic manner, all the mycelium will be shredded at the end of Milan Design Week and go back to the soil, in a circular way. The cycle is similar to what has happened since ancient times in small town or city gardens, through the production of food and the composting of organic waste.

 

“Nature is a much smarter architect than us,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “As we continue our collective quest for a more responsive ‘living’ architecture, we will increasingly blur the boundaries between the worlds of the natural and the artificial. What if tomorrow we might be able to program matter to ‘grow a house’ like a plant? Milan’s amazing botanical garden, in the center of the city, seemed the ideal place for such an experiment.”
 

“There’s a whimsical short story written by Italian writer Italo Calvino in the 1960s that tells of the wonder of the urbanite Marcovaldo when he suddenly discovers some mushrooms growing in the middle of the city. During our first visits at the Botanical Garden in Milan, we felt a similar amazement,” comments Saverio Panata, project manager at CRA: “We discovered how many varieties of mushrooms were naturally growing in the garden. After that encounter, we thought that mushrooms, with their adaptability and speed of growth, could become our perfect building material.”
 

Many pavilions designed for temporary exhibitions and fairs – such as for Milan Design Week – end up generating large amounts of waste. The Circular Garden project will be reused in a circular fashion – mushrooms, ropes and wood chips will go back to the soil and small metal elements will be recycled. “Life is more important than architecture,” Oscar Niemeyer famously said, a dictum that is at the center of this year’s theme at the INTERNI Human Spaces exhibition. “It is certainly about human life – but it is also increasingly about the life of our planet, intended in a holistic way,” adds Ratti.

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota Building Office, F&M Ingegneria and Matteo Gatto & Associati have won the international competition to design the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. Inspired by an ancient marine tradition, three boats will arrive in Dubai by sea and then be raised and turned upside down to become the very roof of the building. The Pavilion will be open from October 20th , 2020 to April 10th , 2021 in Dubai, U.A.E.

 

The Pavilion explores the ways in which “beauty connects people” – the theme of Italy’s participation in next year’s World’s Fair – paying tribute to the long history of explorers who, throughout the centuries, sailed the seas and wove together a shared Mediterranean cultural heritage. The use of upside-down hulls for the roof of the Pavilion connects to an ancient tradition of seafaring populations and fishermen all around the world, while also promoting sustainability with a circular approach.

 

“Reusing the ships once on land was an act that had a profound appeal to us: not only because it is laden with historical value, but because it represents the realization of a circular architecture from the project’s beginning. The ships that become part of the Pavilion can continue to be used in different ways even after the end of the Expo,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA practice and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

 

The Italian Pavilion within the site of Expo 2020 Dubai will take up a surface of around 3,500 square meters and will be over 25 meters tall. Each hull will be painted in a different way, so that seen from above, they will appear like three petals in the colors of the Italian flag.

 

“The exhibition path will be marked by a gradual ascent until a point where it becomes possible, with some help from the imagination, to observe Italy from the sky,” explains architect Italo Rota, founding partner of Italo Rota Building Office: “There will be a ‘Prologue’ with large spaces inspired by the forms of important Italian piazze, and a Grand Finale that will be almost like a cathedral to nature, to light, to the music of the universe, like the sky over the Mediterranean and the Desert.”

 

The project continues CRA’s ongoing work in experimenting with innovative exhibition structures at the World Fairs. Previous projects include the Digital Water Pavilion, a water-based architecture at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 that reacted to people walking through it thanks to digital technologies – named by Time magazine one of the “Best Inventions of the Year” – and the Future Food District, an interactive retail space at Expo Milano 2015.

 

The project for the Italian Pavilion addresses the theme of Expo 2020 Dubai, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.”

The Shenzhen’s Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), one of the leading architectural exhibitions in the world, has announced the curators of its 2019 edition. One of the two winning teams will be led by Chief Curator Carlo Ratti, founding partner of the design practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and by Academic Curator South China-Torino Lab, a joint research center established by the Politecnico di Torino and South China University of Technology and directed by Michele Bonino and Sun Yimin. The Politecnico di Milano, in the person of the Vice-Dean of the School of Architecture Adalberto del Bo, is also part of the team as Co-Curator.

 

The team’s proposal aims to critically explore the impact of digital technologies on communities and urban space. The 8th edition of the Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale will open in Shenzhen, China, in late 2019 and will run until Spring 2020. All around the world, the last two decades have witnessed an increasing penetration of digital technologies in physical space – a phenomenon often described as the emergence of the Internet-of-Things. This has ushered in a series of radical changes in how we conceive, design and live the city. More recently, with a particular prominence in China, technological advancements such as AI and facial recognition have been accelerating a process by which the built environment is becoming more and more able to sense people’s needs in real time.

 

“Sensors and networks have been blanketing our cities for a few decades now. However, thanks to advances in deep learning and imaging, we are now reaching an unprecedented scenario, whereby architectural space is acquiring the ability to ‘see’: it can potentially recognize us and autonomously react to our presence,” says Ratti. “What can the consequences of this new scenario be on urban life? We believe it will dramatically change our relationship with architecture and physical space – and we would like to propose this question for exploration at the 2019 UABB. Our team’s objective is to foster a discussion on this new urban condition, so that through examples, visions and irony we can reflect on what kind of city we really want to build tomorrow.”

 

In 2019, the Bi-City Biennale will consider Shenzhen’s unique features – its geopolitical status between Hong Kong and the rest of the Pearl River Delta region, its rapid urbanization process, its central position as an innovation hub – as starting points to reimagine the relationship between new technologies and urban futures. The 2019 UABB will explore the new phenomena brought about by digital revolution that unfolded in parallel with Shenzhen’s growth, reflecting on urbanism and architecture in ways beyond physical boundaries, discussing how people can be empowered to become the true subject of our digital-physical cities.

 

“Shenzhen keeps evolving at an astonishing pace. While a decade ago it was known almost exclusively as a manufacturing center, today it is one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to setting the innovation agenda. This surely is the best place to gauge the impact of the digital on architecture and urbanism,” says Yimin Sun, Dean of the School of Architecture at the South China University of Technology.

 

“Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region have been under the radar of the world’s architects and planners since almost three decades. At the 2019 UABB, we want to propose a different perspective: one in which we interpret present and future urban developments through the spectacle of new technology, raising questions that will be relevant internationally,” says Michele Bonino, Rector’s Delegate for Chinese affairs at Politecnico di Torino.

 

The 2019 UABB will inaugurate in Shenzhen in December next year. To further reinforce the cross-disciplinary spirit of the exhibition, the Organizing Committee of UABB also nominated two other chief curators who will operate in parallel to Carlo Ratti/South China-Torino Lab’s team. Authoritative academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) Meng Jianmin and famous Italian curator and art critic Fabio Cavallucci will work together, focusing on the intersection between urbanism, architecture, technology, contemporary art and science fiction. Co-curator of this team will be the Science and Human Imagination Center of the Southern University of Science and Technology, in the person of Wu Yan.

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled the Greenary, a renovated farmhouse designed around a 10-meter-high (32-feet-high) Ficus growing within the main living area. Living quarters encircle the tree’s leafy branches up to the top. The Greenary will be built in the countryside close to Parma, Northern Italy as a private residence. It is the first step of the master plan for Mutti, the leading tomato company, which CRA won in 2017 after an international competition. The house and the factory are being developed in close continuity due to their physical proximity and their joint call for a closer integration between nature and the built environment.

 

The Greenary is not a tree-house or a house on a tree, but a house designed around a tree. Life unfolds in sync with a 50-year old Ficus, a perennial tropical plant housed in the middle of the farmhouse’s south hall. All around the tree, a sequence of interconnected rooms creates six domestic spaces – three above the entrance, three below it – each of them dedicated to a specific activity: practicing yoga, listening to music, reading, eating together, sharing a drink, and keeping a wine cellar and storing dry cured ham for aging. Each space is at a different level of the tree, a 3-dimensional sequence that follows Adolf Loos’ principle of Raumplan.

 

The project starts from the spiritual symbolism of the Ficus tree, whose various species are revered in many parts of the world: the Ficus religiosa is venerated by Buddhists as the Bodhi tree, under which Siddhartha achieved enlightenment, while the Ficus microcarpa adorns the ancient parks of Guangzhou in China. The plant is well-suited for indoor living conditions, as it enjoys stable temperatures all year long. To create the ideal setting for the tree to thrive, CRA has completely redesigned the old farmhouse to maximize natural light through a 10-meter-high (33-feet-high) south-facing glass wall.

 

We wanted the design to reflect our innate ‘biophilia,’ the natural impulse to connect with other forms of life, as put forward by the great Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA practice and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “With the Greenary, we are trying to imagine a new domestic landscape built around the rhythm of nature.

 

The Greenary puts forward the idea of living inside-out – based on the principle of biophilia. Its dining room sits at the bottom of the 10-meter-high (33-feet-high) glass wall: it is built slightly below ground level, so that the top of the table has the same level of the grass outside. Diners can look out onto the vast orchard where donkeys and other animals stroll.

 

Inhabiting each of the rooms will be a bit like inhabiting a tree,” says Andrea Cassi, Project Manager at CRA, talking about the south hall: “As the project breaks down traditional separations between rooms and floors, the Ficus becomes the organizing principle of a contemporary interpretation of the Raumplan for the age of BIM. Every level provides a different perspective on nature.”

 

The Greenary complex has a total internal space of 800 square meters (8611 square feet). Its call for a closer integration between nature and the built environment is also fundamental to CRA’s master plan for the neighboring Mutti factory. The renovation of the Greenary will start in fall 2018 and be completed in late 2019.

 

International design and innovation practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati is working with Indian non-profit organization WeRise to develop Livingboard, the prototype of a portable “motherboard system” to improve housing conditions in rural parts of India. Livingboard encourages an open-source approach to design, allowing people to build their own dwellings on top of a prefabricated core. The first pilot is currently under study for development in the Indian state of Karnataka, near Bangalore.

 

Livingboard is a flexible “core” system to support the development of housing initiatives in any rural area of the world. This core must be positioned horizontally, constituting the floor of a 12-square meter room (3x4m).  It can provide, depending on the geography and infrastructure of the region in question, water storage and distribution, water treatment through filtration, waste management, heating, batteries to accumulate PV-generated electricity and wi-fi connectivity. Also, from a structural point of view, it provides seismic isolation by separating the building’s superstructure from the substructure.

 

Made of low-cost materials that can be flat-packed, Livingboard also pays homage to 20th-century US inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller and his dream of “air-deliverable buildings,” by which he meant “whole cities [that] can be flown to any location around the world […] just as fleets of ships can come in to port and anchor in one day, or be off for other parts of the world.” Today, Livingboard can potentially be carried by helicopters or even drones so as to reach any remote location.

 

Livingboard revolves around the idea that housing should not be a static unit that is packaged and handed over to people, but rather should be conceived of as an ongoing project wherein the residents are co-creators. In this way, the design is constantly evolving, allowing users to choose the features that work most effectively for them. The pilot currently under development for the Karnataka region aims to respond to the area’s climate and environmental conditions – characterized by a low precipitation rate – by treating and recycling homes’ greywater to irrigate agricultural fields.

 

“The Maker movement has shown how empowering it is to put the new fabrication tools in the hands of people,” says Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA practice and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “An important challenge for the next years will be to apply the same principle to construction – transferring the DIY attitude of Fab Labs to housing. This is the vision behind our design for Livingboard.”

International design and innovation practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has worked with Australian real estate group Lendlease to develop the schematic design for the University of Milan’s new Science Campus, Science for Citizens. The design proposes a rethink of the traditional university court or cloister, with maker spaces and parametric brick facades assembled by robots. The new Campus will be located within MIND (Milan Innovation District), the innovation park under development on the former site of Milan’s 2015 World Expo – also based on a general master plan by CRA. In the framework of a public-private partnership scheme, the project sets the basis for a tender dealing with the project financing, which will open in fall 2018.

 

The design responds to the decision by Milan’s largest university to move its scientific disciplines to a new campus – from the Città Studi area in eastern Milan to MIND. The project puts forward a vision for an open campus that becomes a testing ground for innovative methods for education, while fostering exchanges between the university and the surrounding neighborhood. The Science Campus will host over 18,000 students and almost 2,000 researchers.

 

“The modern university campus was developed in Italy around the year 1000. Its principles have kept informing the design of higher education spaces for over a millennium now – from the Oxbridge colleges to the French Grandes Ecoles to the contemporary American campuses,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “However, today MOOCs, learning by making, continuous education and so on demand a fundamental rethinking of the architecture of the university – fostering more interactions both inside the community and outside it (“town and gown”). This challenge is what inspired us in developing the design for the new campus for one of the world’s greatest universities.”

 

The project by CRA, extending over an area of more than 150,000 square meters (1.6 million square feet), is based on some fundamental principles, like the courts, the parametric bricks, the idea of a common ground and open university and the harmony between city and nature.

 

In late July 2018, the Board of Directors of the University approved Lendlease’s proposal for a public-private partnership for the construction of the Campus. The Lendlease project provides a concession for the construction and management of campus services for the next 30 years. The next step is the preparation of the tender for the actual development of the Campus.

 

The Science for Citizens Campus will be located within MIND, whose master plan was also designed by CRA and first presented in November 2017, when Lendlease won the international competition held by public company Arexpo to build an innovation district on the former area of 2015 Milan World Expo. MIND extends on a surface of 1 million square meters (10 million square feet), and it will feature a one-mile long linear park and the first neighborhood planned for self-driving vehicles, applying the “common ground” principle to the entire area.

 

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has worked with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs in Toronto to design The Dynamic Street, a prototype of a modular and reconfigurable paving system that hints at the possibility of the streetscape seamlessly adapting to people’s needs. The project is based on Sidewalk Labs’ extensive experience and research into street design, and affords visitors the ability to engage with up-and-coming technology concepts.  The installation is at Toronto’s Quayside 307, a former industrial building converted into the central office and experimental workspace for Sidewalk Labs, and is on view throughout the summer of 2018.

 

The Dynamic Street features a series of hexagonal modular pavers which can be picked up and replaced within hours or even minutes in order to swiftly change the function of the road without creating disruptions on the street.  This system is inspired by French research group IFSTTAR’s pilot project on removable urban pavement underway in Nantes.

 

The project explores the different patterns that can be created on the hexagonal grid as well as the integration of lights into individual pavers. Each paver can also potentially host a plug and play element – that is, vertical structures such as poles, bollards or even basketball hoops.

 

Imagine a city street, nestled between buildings with mostly foot and bicycle traffic. During the morning and evening hours, there might be a steady stream of commuters heading to work. In the middle of the day and the evening, families might use the street as a play space. And on the weekend, the street could be cleared for a block party or a basketball game.

 

At the exhibition, visitors can engage in the co-creation of the Dynamic Street by playing on a digital reconfigurator, to design urban scenarios of their own.

 

“The installation is an experiment and an area of active research, so expect it to change as we learn from feedback and tests. In this first iteration, the pavers are made out of wood so that we could quickly mock something up and rapidly change it – we would expect later versions to be made of concrete or other more resistant materials,” says Chris Anderson, Urban Prototyper at Sidewalk Labs, who adds: “We look forward to visitors imagining new types of urban activities for streets.”

 

“The Dynamic Street creates a space for urban experimentation: with this project, we aim to create a streetscape that responds to citizens’ ever-changing needs,” says Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA practice and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “As autonomous vehicles are likely to start running on streets soon, we can start to imagine a more adaptable road infrastructure.”

What if you could instantly turn your office or living room wall into a canvas for digital content, and update it in real time? International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati unveils Scribit, an intelligent small writing robot that ushers in a new way of presenting digital content, and makes it possible to instantly reconfigure and personalize a wall – whether it’s a storefront, an office lobby or your living room. Scribit was first unveiled in Milan, Italy on 16 April 2018 during Salone del Mobile, the world’s leading design event. A subsequent crowdfunding campaign, launched in June 2018, raised $1.6 million to kick off the production.

 

With its in-built engines, Scribit can be installed in less than 5 minutes: all that is needed are two nails and a power plug. Furthermore, thanks to a special patented technology, Scribit can safely draw, cancel and re-draw new content an infinite number of times, allowing you to print a different image on your wall every day or even every few minutes. Scribit can travel on every kind of vertical surface, from whiteboards to glass or plaster. Thus, any vertical surface can be transformed into a screen – a wonder wall where images, messages or feeds are projected.

 

Scribit is always connected to the web, meaning that you can download, upload or source any content from the Internet. A restaurant can post the day’s menu on its wall, a financial firm can post stock market updates in its lobby, or someone who loves art can project a Van Gogh – or their own drawings – onto their bedroom wall. Scribit’s interactive software allows the real-time reproduction of any kind of data, including notes, messages, pictures and graphics. Once the user sends their digital information to the device, the plotter immediately reproduces it.

 

“We are totally deluged with information, and spend too much of our non-sleeping time in front of one form or other of digital screen – TV, desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Do we really want to add more screens to our lives?” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “Scribit offers an alternative: a robotic system that draws on any kind of vertical surface, following a primordial act performed by humanity since our first cave graffiti.”

 

Scribit will offer users access to a broad range of digital content structured around mini Apps. In this global marketplace, people, businesses or institutions – from artists, to museums, to media organizations – can develop and upload any type of content.

 

Scribit, which means “s/he writes” in Latin, stems from a long investigation of writing machines developed at CRA’s practice. This includes the installation OSARCH at the 2011 Istanbul Design Biennale, the façade of the Future Food District at Milan’s World Expo 2015 (selected by Guiness World Records as the largest image ever plotted) – and, more recently, UFO-Urban Flying Opera, a project in which a fleet of painting drones is employed to draw a collectively-sourced image. All these projects can be seen as interpretations to the idea of “tangible bits” developed by MIT Professor Hiroshi Ishii: they bring together the best of both the digital and the physical worlds.

 

For more information and to stay updated on Scribit’s launch: www.scribit.design

The 280m tall high-rise on 88 Market Street, jointly designed by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, is an oasis in the bustling Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore. The tower, one of the tallest in Singapore, blends urban life with tropical nature, redefining workplace and living standards for its users while adding a new landmark to the Singapore skyline.

 

The new 93,000 SQM green skyscraper is tech-integrated and includes the “office of the future,” as well as serviced residences and retail units. CRA and BIG were selected to design the 51-story high-rise, which transforms the site of a former car park complex built in the 1980s, following an international architectural competition hosted by Asia’s leading real estate company CapitaLand.

 

Rising to 280m, the tower is set to make a distinctive mark on the Singapore skyline. Its exterior façade consists of vertical elements that are pulled apart to allow glimpses into the green oases blooming from the base, core and rooftop. The building shows an interplay of orthogonal lines interweaved with tropical vegetation.

 

The indoor space is characterized by an array of hi-tech solutions, shaping a series of fully responsive spaces for work or leisure. Sensors, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence capabilities are scattered throughout the tower, which will enable the tenants to customize their experience of the building. The focus on achieving a truly responsive architecture advances CRA’s decade-long research in this field, following up on projects such as the award-winning renovation of the Agnelli Foundation headquarters in Italy.

 

“At CRA, we aim to design spaces that can foster novel interactions. In this project, green areas are made accessible to the public at different heights, allowing the city’s exuberance to extend throughout the entire tower,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “Working in nature will be as essential to the experience of the building, as are the most advanced digital technologies, offering us a glimpse of tomorrow’s offices.”

 

The development funded by the joint venture partnership CapitaLand Limited, CapitaLand Commercial Trust and Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. had its groundbreaking ceremony on February 9th. 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2021.

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled “Living Nature. La Natura dell’Abitare,” a garden pavilion where all four seasons coexist with each other at the same time, thanks to an innovative energy management system for climate control. The project, stemming from a concept by CRA and Studio Römer, has been developed for Salone del Mobile.Milano as the main venue in the city and will host the opening event for Milan Design Week 2018. “Living Nature” will be open to the public in Milan’s main square (Piazza del Duomo) from the 17th to the 29th of April 2018.

 

The 500 square-meter pavilion will house four natural, climatic microcosms that will enable all seasons of the year to unfold at precisely the same time, one next to the other. Visitors will be immersed in nature and experience its changes through the four different areas – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – enriched with familiar and domestic concepts.

 

While it shapes a recreational space in the heart of the city – one might play with snowballs in the winter quarters or suntan in the summer one – “Living Nature” also explores the relationship between cities and nature, a recurring topic in Western history, from Ancient Greece to Frank Lloyd Wright or Ezebener Howard’s 20th century urban utopias. At the same time, the project experiments with energy management systems – leveraging on photovoltaic cells, accumulators and heat pumps – in order to allow unprecedented sustainable climate control strategies.

 

“In the 20th century, cities expanded outwards to conquer nature and the countryside. We believe that today’s challenge is the opposite – how can we bring nature back to the city,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of MIT Senseable City Lab: “In recent years, Milan has been at the forefront of such research with landmark projects such as Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale. Living Nature continues such a reflection, bridging the domestic dimension closer to today’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

 

“Living Nature” bonds nature’s cycles and domestic spaces, through a series of rooms and familiar areas, each of them furnished according to a different theme. The pavilion explores how our modern homes and furniture can meet mankind’s need for “biophilia” – that innate love for nature researched by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson.

 

Another key issue raised by “Living Nature” is sustainability: how to better manage energy flows to control the urban microclimate. The plants in the pavilion, selected by French botanist Patrick Blanc, are housed under a 5-meter-high selective Crystal membrane that dynamically filters the sun based on input from light-reactive sensors. Above the pavilion, photovoltaic panels generate clean energy and contribute to feed the energy flows, providing the required energy to cool space in the winter area, or to heat the summer space. Batteries provide additional storage to smoothen high and low peaks of energy production.

 

“In light of climate change and the threat it poses to cities worldwide, we need to devise strategies of climate remediation to improve life conditions in our cities, defining a closer alliance between the natural and artificial worlds,” says Antonio Atripaldi, project leader at CRA. “If climate control is often associated with excessive energy consumption, this project offers a radical change of perspective, demonstrating the feasibility of climate control technology that is also sustainable, with vast potential for future applications.”

 

“Living Nature” represents the next chapter in CRA’s ongoing research on the nature-city relationship – a topic wide explored in the “Green & the Grey” exhibition curated by CRA at Toronto’s EDIT Expo in September 2017. In recent years, CRA has developed several projects putting forward a reconciliation between nature and urban life in the very city of Milan. Among them is the Trussardi Dehors in Milan’s piazza della Scala – enriched by Italy’s first vertical garden, designed by Patrick Blanc, as well as the master plan for the transformation of the former Milan Expo World site into a Park for Science, Knowledge and Innovation, featuring a one-mile long linear park as the neighborhood’s main mobility axis.