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Life 2014, 4(3), 457-490; doi:10.3390/life4030457

Designing with Protocells: Applications of a Novel Technical Platform

School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
Received: 2 August 2014 / Accepted: 25 August 2014 / Published: 5 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protocells - Designs for Life)
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Abstract

The paper offers a design perspective on protocell applications and presents original research that characterizes the life-like qualities of the Bütschli dynamic droplet system, as a particular “species” of protocell. Specific focus is given to the possibility of protocell species becoming a technical platform for designing and engineering life-like solutions to address design challenges. An alternative framing of the protocell, based on process philosophy, sheds light on its capabilities as a technology that can deal with probability and whose ontology is consistent with complexity, nonlinear dynamics and the flow of energy and matter. However, the proposed technical systems do not yet formally exist as products or mature technologies. Their potential applications are therefore experimentally examined within a design context as architectural “projects”—an established way of considering proposals that have not yet been realized, like an extended hypothesis. Exemplary design-led projects are introduced, such as The Hylozoic Ground and Future Venice, which aim to “discover”, rather than “solve”, challenges to examine a set of possibilities that have not yet been resolved. The value of such exploration in design practice is in opening up a set of potential directions for further assessment before complex challenges are procedurally implemented. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bütschli droplets; architecture; design; technical system; assemblage; process philosophy; living buildings; ecological Bütschli droplets; architecture; design; technical system; assemblage; process philosophy; living buildings; ecological
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Armstrong, R. Designing with Protocells: Applications of a Novel Technical Platform. Life 2014, 4, 457-490.

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