Design Research

Interesting architectural project designed by Severino Alfonso & Xiang Li in (n)certainties unit. This machine re-generates out dated concrete at post-industrial area borrowing human’s digestion process.

Finally, figured out how to post url, images, video, others blogs to our unit blog well… Keep publishing!!


Publisher Springer writesIs science the new art? Starting from this provocative question, art historian Ingeborg Reichle examines in her book fascinating responses of contemporary artists when faced with recent scientific and technological advances. In the last two decades a growing number of artists has left the traditional artistic playground to work instead in scientific contexts such as the laboratories of molecular biology, robotics, and artificial life. New art forms like “Transgenic Art” and “Bio-Art” have emerged from the laboratory. These art forms differ dramatically from traditional artistic approaches that explore the natural: they have crossed the boundaries between the artificial and the natural, and thus provoke passionate debates about the growing influence of science and technology. This first comprehensive survey presents a well-selected number of significant artworks and with over 280 colour illustrations provides a broad overview of this new and relevant development in art.

Edgar Lissel, Domus Aurea, 2005

Right from the introduction to the book, written by Robert Zwijnenberg, a professor of Art History in relation to the development of science and technology at Universiteit Maastricht and Universiteit Leiden, i knew i was going to be the happy customer. His text does far more than act as the token, compulsory entry to a volume. Instead of focusing strictly on the relationship between life sciences and art, Zwijnenberg’s essay comments on the place that, over time, humanities have lost in the conversation with and about life science. He suggests that it is now time for humanities to find a position of their own in the debate about designer babies, the commercialization of life, cloning, heredity, bio warfare, advancements in brain research, etc. According to him, the new breed of artists who have traded their workshops for the laboratories and are exploring issues typical of the study of the human condition could act as mediators and provide humanities with direct access to life science.

Ebener and Winters,BYTE, 1998

The book itself is the outcome of a solid research on art and technoscience. Instead of presenting these new art forms as coming out of the magic hat of some lab renegade, the author brings them into a broader context and explains their kinship with art history (reminding us for example that Kazimir Malevich used bacteria in his work), history, science, etc. Every single fact is documented with many notes, references and photos. Quick parenthesis: the many images that illustrate the text are presented one after the other at the end of the book, an editorial decision i haven’t encountered since my years at the university.

The work of dozens of artists is analyzed in the book. Jane Prophet, Suzanne Anker, Tissue Culture & Art Project, Pam Skelton, Steve Miller, Herwig Turk, Paul Vanouse, Peta Clancy, etc. Some with more depth than others. The chapter titled Art in the Age of Genetic Engineering is all about Eduardo Kac’s career, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau get the chapter Art and Digital Evolution almost all for themselves, while the work of Joe Davis is used to examine Genesthetics: Molecular Biology and the Arts.

Catherine Chalmers, Genetically Engineered Mice

If there’s one book that can finally shake off the pure shock and horror stigma from ‘technoscience art’ it’s this one. Reichle does justice to the artists who have chosen to address life sciences but also in many cases the social, economical and political forces that might drive their research. Art in the Age of Technoscience has academic gravitas. It is dense, remarkably well documented and it demonstrates that you don’t have to dumb down a discourse to make it accessible to a broad public. The language of the book is clear, its argumentation limpid. It should interest you whether you know a lot or almost nothing about the theme, whether you have a background in science or are an artist.

Herwig Turk and Paulo Pereira, Labscapes, 2007

Image on the homepage Victimless Leather The Tissue Culture & Art Project.

Great news – Aran Chadwick of Atelier One will be joining us for a couple of sessions as the studio engineering consultant. Aran is a partner of Atelier One. You can visit their website here:

Here is a lecture that they gave at the AA last year for their book launch. Their excellent book is called ‘Liquid Threshold’ and can be found here (and hopefully in RCA library)

everyone should attend this. John Thackara is very interesting.

Sustain RCA

The next in the series of Sustain Talks will take place in Lecture Theatre 1 on 7 December at 6.30pm at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU.

Moving people’s minds to embrace a more sustainable way of life requires a careful combination of inspirational story telling and practical problem solving. Our speakers are experts in helping individuals and organisations see a wealth of positive opportunities for a new future world. John Thackara (Doors of Perception), Alison Tickell (Julie’s Bicycle) and Howard Jones (Eden Project) tell their stories of their varied activities and their engagement with the creative world.

John Thackara, writer and critic
Howard Jones, Eden Project
Alison Tickell, Julie’s Bicycle

Sustain Talks is a series of debates with leading thinkers and doers from across the art and design disciplines. The aim of the lectures is to inspire and challenge students to embrace and address sustainability in their work, providing a forum for honest discussions about the complexities and opportunities of sustainable practice in art and design. Each Sustain Talk is opened by a recent graduate speaker whose work has a strong sustainability theme, giving a boost to our students and their ideas.

Follow us on Twitter @sustainRCA

Clare Brass | Academic Advisor, SustainRCA | Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU


6 December 2011

Ricky Burdett Joseph Rykwert


2 February 2012

Charles Jencks Patrik Schumacher


21 February 2012

Frédéric Migayrou Anthony Vidler


19 March 2012

Peter Buchanan Michael Sorkin


26 April 2012

Sir Peter Cook Carlo Ratti

The RCA 2011/12 Architectural Lecture Series, Future Frontiers, focuses on five critical themes that will shape the production of architecture and urbanism over the coming century. Each evening two high-profile speakers will share their cutting-edge research, followed by a discussion with the audience.

All lectures start at 7pm in Lecture Theatre One at the Royal College of Art, Jay Mews, South Kensington, SW7. Tickets are free. To reserve your place, email boris.cesnik@ or call 020 7590 4567. Hosted with The Architectural Review

Royal College of Art Sculpture School Howie Street, London 25th November 2011: 1200-1700

Design Ecologies: the ill-defined niche

The ill defined niche begins with the provisional premise that our environment is composed of a multiplicity of ill-defined ecological niches, each of which is a potential home for living and non-living forms. Through an understanding that objects cannot be fully explained in terms of their material constituents and the energy within them, objects seems to be something over and above the material components that make it up, but at the same time it can be expressed only through the organization of matter and energy. This paradox allows burgeoning design practices to go beyond shaping geometry, to shaping the internal structure of material. But in that case, what is the connection between the empirical ground, the contingent material support of human thinking, and the abstract ‘designer’ that is the condition for a ‘whole’ of thought?

Humans have become the dominant driver of almost all natural processes in the biosphere. Anthropogenic changes are leading to a reshuffling of species assemblies from local to global spatial scales and, additionally, novel organisms created in laboratories enter ecosystems. It is expected that these changes are leading to new behaviours of ecological systems and ‘ecological novelty’ is becoming widely acknowledged.

Accompanying the symposium is the launch of the peer-reviewed journal Design Ecologies 1.2, published with intellect books, which is to ascertain the consequence of fitting a design project with our environment. The overall aim of this research is to profoundly re-define and re-shape thinking in design.

To subscribe to the peer-reviewed Design Ecologies Journal, please go to the following link:,id=197/


For more information please contact:

To book tickets:




1200  Ideation                      

Dr. SHAUN MURRAY (Architect) Eniatype:


1245     Ecological Design Visions           

Visionary thinking on methodologies of communicating an architecture along  with new models and ecological contribution.

NIC CLEAR, (Architect) University of Greenwich:


Coffee Break


1400    Notational Design Visions             

Notational systems used as a communication tool have made the  composition of design an activity like the composition of fiction: the activity  of communication.

 Dr. KARIN SONDERGAARD (Performance) School of Architecture, The Royal  Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark

Dr. KYELL YNGVE PETERSEN (Performance) IT Copenhagen


1445      Instructional Design Visions           

There are many kinds of relationships between participant and environment  within context, design and communication. An extremely important one is  who communicates with whom and who instructs whom.

DONALD SMITH (Artist/ Curator) CHELSEA space:


1530    Aesthetical Design Visions           

Aesthetic experience is one of the most common ways to value our environment. Whether it is having a walk in the park, cycling through a country lane, or just sitting in your garden, we can appreciate the aesthetic qualities. We could go on to say that we should be developing environmental sensitivity through aesthetic experience.

Dr CHRIS SPEED (Digital Architecture) University of Edinburgh 


NORBERT SCHOERNER (Photographer/ Filmmaker)

(Live Stream from Pinewood Studios, UK) TBC


1615    Discussion

Through original design exploration, this symposium proffers a critical vision towards the built environment. These conceptions challenge the everyday thinking in design by offering a transdisciplinary framework for design production.


1700    Journal launch and drinks

Design Ecologies 1.2 the unprimed canvas

Issue includes:

Timothy Morton:

Yorgos Loizos:

Benedict Singleton:

Kjell Ynvge Petersen

Claudia Westermann:

Mathew Emmett:

Michael Dean, Weitoa Li:, Tim Thornton:, Anne Carina Volkel, Elizabeth Anne Williams, Kevin Green, Wei-Chung Chuo