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NUTRITIOUS: an aeroponic facade

Installation exhibited at the Architectural Association, London.

AA Inter One sent 3form all of our garbage and immediately got it back again – slightly repackaged, but significantly transformed. Thousands of discarded plastic bottles and containers form our reconstituted chaise-lounge, allowing one to recline in the refuse of everyday life. And from this position of recumbence, home-grown cherries are delivered from a chandelier of tomatoes draping down from above. Unlike ‘globe’ tomatoes – the tomato of international commerce – our cultivars need not be modified with thicker, waxier, hyper-resilient skins to ensure their survival during travel. This fruit is provided at arms reach, not via the cargo hold of a 747, and these plant roots are suspended over a steady mist of recycled rain water, not entrenched in the earth several continents away. The shallow roots develop only to the minimum depth necessary to suck in nutrients from a feeder tube – a computer controlled aeroponic pipeline that keeps the fruit alive, merrily growing day and night underneath the high pressure sodium street lamps. Here, we hold nature captive, serving our needs: from the brise soleil of yardlong beans to the security system provided by the blackberry thorns, our vegetation forms the architecture, blurring the boundary of ‘natural’ building materials. Our materials are not just ‘green’, they are still alive.

Through this temporal interplay we propose a new type of English Pastoral, an alternative type of controlled growth for our eccentric Hong Kong site. The Captive-Nature-Nutrient-Tube holding our vegetation is manufactured by means of a highly precise array of computer-controlled machinery at 3form’s advanced fabrication laboratory, providing a bespoke material to suit our application needs – an ecoglass™. Officially certified as ‘food grade’ material, this product is perfectly suitable for cultivating our herbs without poisoning us or them. And although the entire façade is constructed from the throw-away residues of our consumption, it has been painstakingly transformed by 3form’s scientists into a highly engineered, serviceable and overtly intelligent product; allowing us to be elegantly enveloped in our own refuse.

And when we are done with it, tired of it and need something a little better, faster, cleaner, and differently designed, we will scrap the entire façade and send 3form our garbage once again. They have already promised to melt it all down and in return, produce something shiny, fresh and new.

Project Details:
Location: Project Reviews, Architectural Association, London.

Acknowledgements:
Lead Designers: Eric Schuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu.
Research and Concepts: AA Inter One.
Project Team: Tae Beom Kim, Fabrizio Matillana, Joy Natapa Sriyuksiri, Azri Syazwan. 
Collaborators: Ruben Suare, Jen Silbert, 3form Architectural, Graeme Warner, Greem Finger; Giorgos Artopoulos; Charlie Corry Wright (AA).
Project Consultants and Material Sponsors: 3form; Fabrication: Hooke Park and 3Form fabrication lab.

Publication: NUTRITIOUS: An Aeroponic Façade by Eric Schuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu, published in the biannual critical journal of architecture, art, and media culture produced by the Department of Architecture MIT, thresholds 36, MIT department of architecture.