LIVING ARCHITECTURE: How Synthetic Biology Can Remake Our Cities And Reshape Our Lives

November 20th, 2012 | stuff2012

I had the great privilege of meeting, speaking to and working with Rachel Armstrong this summer, at a think-tank in Eindhoven.  I bought this book, a Kindle Single (also on iBooks), right after.  It’s taken me months to finish it, not least because I had to sit down and think for a month after each chapter.  If nothing else, this here is probably the manual for the next five years of science fiction “biopunk” novels, (Ah, if only they would stick with “ribofunk,” too!) with protocells becoming the new nanomachines.

Rachel said to me, “biology is the new engineering,” and the book is an expression of that thought.  Put crudely, the idea is that manual-assembly construction of buildings and physical infrastructures out of inert materials that either grow more inert or corrode away entirely over time… is stupid and dangerous.  Rachel illustrates (with occasional, thrilling speculative extrapolations) how buildings could be grown, and how existing architecture could be transformed, and how this new age of living architecture could achieve astonishing things.  There is, in fact, the strong sense than even Rachel herself feels like she’s barely scratching the surface of the possibilities.

LIVING ARCHITECTURE is a wonderful read that puts fire in the imagination.  I recommend it greatly.

You can find Rachel @livingarchitect .