Ecological borders Second prize
Work title: Ecosophical Skin (0000901802)
An experiment in social ecology tries to re-interrogate the notion of nature and its relationship with human kind. The proposal sets up a neighborhood protocol in which the relationship between different species, including humans co-exists. The architecture acts as a mechanism of conflict between the different species. A “wild skin” is applied to a residential building in Manhattan and its inhabitants are able to personalize their interaction with the wild skin. Differentiating itself from previous approaches, this project does not treat the organic façade and the interior of the building as two separate environments. The scenario calls for an engagement between exterior forces of nature and the interior, creating tension between the species. The Ecosophical skin literally acts as an ecological border able to mutate itself. The species living in this system are Humans, rats, birds, insects, and several types of vine plants including Ivy, Russian-vine, and the Virginia Creepe. All of these species produce a byproduct, which would be re-used by the other species. This setup creates tension between the wild exterior and the human inhabitants forcing a change in behavior for all species living in this microhabitat.
This relationship may result to be symbiotic, neutral, perhaps destructive, placing each individual/family in a spectrum of ecosophical approach affecting their behaviors and survival. This scenario does not have a clear outcome, no pre-established trajectory; the system may or may not reach equilibrium.
As previously mentioned the experiment is set in a residential complex, the Tudor building in midtown Manhattan, and it is focused on how we conceive the idea of dwelling and how the post-war idea of “home appliance” can be redefined. Since the industrial era the home appliance has always been a main element in consumer society and has always been seen as a sterile object unable to mutate. In this system the main tool for interaction with the wild faced is the home appliance that is a hybrid between machine and organism. The proposed home appliance recycles human waste(excrements) and acts as a plant+animal feeder that can be connected in different ways to the dwelling. Depending on the combination of home appliances the human inhabitants are able to customize the type of interaction they have with the “wild skin. The main types of interactions between the inhabitants and the skin are:
i.The people living in this building can have a one-way relationship with the Ecosophical skin; only feeding the skin with their byproduct(their organic waste).
The humans are able to protect themselves from the skin by using protective screens and selecting certain home appliances that allow for a one-way relationship.
ii.They may have a two-way relationship; people can let the wild species into their homes, this creates a feedback loop between the species. They feed the skin and feed from the skin, they can hunt the animals living in the wild skin while the animals and plans living on the Ecosophical skin feed on the excrements produced by its human inhabitants.
The humans that picked this type of interaction rely on the wild skin for food, light protection, and privacy, therefore creating a mutualistic or cannibalistic relationship with the exterior. In this setup there is no effort to maintain the current standards of hygiene, there is no effort to tame nature, this forces the human to adapt.
The narrative defines a spectrum of conditions that define how the wild skin affects the level of privacy, our standards of hygiene, and rituals of providing ourselves with food and getting rid of our wastes. All this creates a conflict between neighbors with different lifestyles and species living in this microhabitat.