Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Over the weekend, we headed to the Southbank with the children.  There was an exhibition entitled "Pestival" that dealt with all things creepy-crawly - insects to be precise.  The highlight was walking through a giant scaled model of a termite nest.  Inside the nest was an enthusiastic fellow who explained the architecture and habits of termites.  Architecture without architects is a fascinating topic and these termites are ancient leaders of the green movement.  Nests are constructed in a way that provides natural "air conditioning".  The man inside the hive lecturing was Dr. Rupert Soar.  He was not an ordinary insect expert.   The head of a company called Freeform Engineering, Dr. Soar has extrapolated the ideas found in termite hives and combined them with rapid prototyping technologies.  I first encountered a rapid prototyping structure when I was in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.  Artist Robert Lazzerini used rapid prototyping machines to manufacture skewed sculptures.  

Back to the termites.  Philosophically, the marriage of what a termite constructs combined with the use of rapid prototyping technologies for use in architecture is a good mix.  I love the idea of printing a building layer by layer, using robotics.  Building complex structures such as those made by termites would not be readily achievable without this technology.   Whilst listening, I imagined several people must already be developing large scale use of rapid prototyping for use in architecture, and, according to this article in the FT, that is the case.  I do think this company has a very interesting angle on it with the incorporation of green structures based on termites nests.

It is really this kind of thinking that makes the world go round.  I wish them baskets of success.

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