Liam Young, 16 07 09

The work from the students of Liam Young (Tomorrows Thoughts Today) and Kate Davies’ (liquidfactory) design unit 7 ‘Necessary Monsters’ is being exhibited at the Architectural Associations projects review , 36 Bedford Sq London until July 25th.  (We are the glowing room just beyond the terrace) Those of you not in London can see the work by following the links to intermediate 7 in the online exhibition.  Read on for a full studio and project description.

Unit Outline

A dark menagerie inhabits the pages of Borges’ ‘Book of Imaginary Beings’. This register of curious specimens forms a mythological zoo of ‘necessary monsters’ that are both fictional imaginings and chronicles of the contradictions, flaws and frailties of the everyday. Inter 7 navigates this critical space between the real and the imagined, a space where architecture can enter into new relations with the territories of science and fiction.  As ‘necessary monsters’ our projects operate not just as speculative visions of fantasy but as critical readings of today – an experience of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. 

This year the unit have trawled the wilds of genetic modification, augmented bodies and neo biological invention to query today’s idealistic and preservationist views of the natural world. We have re-imagined the quiet mysteries of wilderness as we encountered the novel reality of engineered ‘monsters’ and manufactured landscapes. We have explored the mythic dimensions of emerging technologies as a way of critically engaging with the conditions of today and the coming of tomorrow.

We began our future safari with explorations of the (un)natural landscapes of our own bodies, dipping our toes in the magic waters of genetics, nanotechnology and robotics, creating bioroids, cyborgs, chimeras and apparitions.

For three weeks Inter 7 then voyaged south, as ‘archaeologists of the future’, following Darwin’s expedition to the islands and South America. In the Galapagos we found a precious and fragile wilderness teetering at the point of collapse, an ecology in crisis, necessitating evolved and mutated architectures…necessary monsters.

Here the unit gave life to a twisted menagerie of strange habitats and alien landscapes. Floating on ocean currents is a headquarters for an eco terrorist group, a migrating research machine and a crepuscular island of myth and storytelling; an ancient ruin is discovered and a pre-emptive museum of extinct species lies in wait; scientists study at a library without books; mechanical plant structures support a self-sufficient community; a bioluminescent bacterial billboard glows across the harbour and a flamingo habitat built from salt dissolves and disappears. Kin developed a biological control beehive to trap bees and destroy introduced species; Soonil designed a series of augmented landscapes from the scale of the body to the scale of the city; and Costa imagined a scenario where all the endemic species have been destroyed and a DNA cloning cult, operating in secret on their own artificial island, genetically engineer Galapagos 2.0.

Our projects as conceived as critical instruments, designed to provoke and raise questions about architectural practice in relation to the social and political consequences of various environmental and technological futures. It would seem that ‘going mad is the only way of staying sane’.

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