Non Sequitur 01: Charnel House
By Andrew Maynard
Architecture of the body. A necessary materiality in the future of architecture, building and production. With swelling populations and dwindling resources, in the near future our richest resource will be the human cadaver.
Reduce, reuse, recycle – our age is defined by our waste. It is estimated that by 2025 the human population will reach 8 billion, 9 billion soon after that. As our population increases, our resources radically deplete and our production of airborne carbon exponentially grows, the one resource we will have in increasingly reliable amounts is the human cadaver. In 2025, it is estimated, an average of 170,000 people will die everyday. If in reasonable condition, many of our organs can be harvested and reused, but what about the other parts? What of the decaying biomass? The ‘stronger than steel’ bone? The vast quantities of fat? Without limits on population and the onset of reduced resources, we will be obliged to reuse and recycle the human body. How do we make the most of this constantly renewing resource? What potential will this new materiality have for architecture and the building industry?
By 2025, over-population will reduce basic resources. This will result in:
Drastically reduced forests and timber;
Soil exhaustion and reduced food production;
Dwindling supplies of fresh water from increased water salinity;
Depleted stocks of plastics, related chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fuel from peak oil;
Mineral and ore depletion.
Your cadaver will become even more valuable, especially in building, for the human frame offers a fully modular construction type. In fact, building from human remains is nothing new, as wonderful examples such as Capela dos Ossos in Portugal, the Golden Chamber of Saint Ursula and the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic testify.
Your cadaver will be your richest commodity, but really, it already is. By some estimates, your body parts could be worth around AUD$604,000 in total. When one considers the complex make up of the human body, isn’t it a shame to put it in the ground or burn it?
Think of your body as an asset to be inherited by your family, with the value of ‘the product’ – your cadaver – dependent on the investment made during your lifetime. Over your lifetime, generate a medical record to ensure on-going maintenance. At death, your medical record becomes your product description.
Due to minimal freight costs, cadavers represent a low-embodied energy material. The more populous areas, requiring more resources, have the greatest number of cadavers being produced everyday – an opportune balance.
Lifetime maintenance and investment, for those that can afford to do so, ensuring your body is a valuable asset.
At death, following a brief mourning period, the cadaver becomes an asset inherited by the family or any other party purchasing rights to it. The funeral parlour becomes a factory for product handing, processing and quality control.
The cadaver is disassembled so that it can be broken down to specific elements, ensuring it is used in its entirety.
The separated elements are distributed for use throughout the local economy.
By contrast with the cost of beef, meat could be harvested from a human body and sold for around AUD$150. There are 40 litres of precious water in your cadaver; over 2sqm of leather. You could sell your corneas for roughly $6,000, your heart for around $60,000, a kidney for $30,000, your lungs for almost $100,000.
CV08, The suburb eating robot.
The Australian suburb was born out of our dependance on the car. With Peak Oil rapidly approaching the epoch of the automobile with soon come to an end and with it so will the Australian outer suburb. Where will suburbanites live when there is no other means of circulation to their homes? What will we do with our abandoned and decaying suburbs? And most importantly, what will we do with the 50% of Australians that are over-weight due to car dependance and a sedentary lifestyle? Well Andrew Maynard Architects has the answer : the CV08. CV08 is a robot that consumes the abandoned suburbs through its front 2 legs. It processes the materials and fires off compacted recycling missiles to awaiting recycling plants. CV08’s middle legs and one rear leg follow the front legs to terra-form the newly revealed earth with native Flora and Fauna. Vast stocks of the Flora and Fauna are stored within CV08 in carbonite sleep until they are required to colonise what was previously suburban wasteland.
A mobile, adaptable architecture is a democratic architecture. Democracy is a weird creature. An illusion of choice. An illusion that those in power are truly answerable to the masses. Many of the spaces that elected representatives occupy are heavily controlled, fortified and spatially manipulated to the benefit of the representative rather than those represented. The disenfranchised, those left out, those left behind, those completely disempowered have only one way to make themselves heard; forced to embrace mobility and guerrilla style hit-and-run tactics. The letter to the editor can be ignored. The push, or the shove, cannot.
In frustration many choose to express their dissatisfaction and disillusion physically rather than through rational argument. Many aren't even afforded the right to be heard. The security and safety of elected representatives is undeniably important, as it is with all constituents. So how do we allow the will of the people to manipulate parliamentary space to express dissatisfaction with, or celebration of, their representatives? How do we allow them to be seen and to contribute to physical/spatial change, even if only symbolically?
If mobility and hit-and-run guerrilla tactics empower the disempowered and marginalised, if only momentarily, then perhaps a truly democratic parliament is one that responds spatially to the will of the people. Perhaps a parliament can be both fortified and open to attack. What if parliament could be manipulated by the masses? What if parliament's spatial condition is changeable by those that are dissatisfied and marginalised as well as those that are pleased with the contributions of elected representatives? The abrupt, confrontational nature of direct physical interaction is what drives the Mobile Parliament. Though safe within, the politician’s access to view and light can be democratically controlled by the public.
Logging in Tasmania’s wilderness
The Styx Valley Forest is a pristine wilderness in south western Tasmania. It is home to the tallest hardwood trees in the world averaging over 80 metres. It is a unique ecosystem unlike any other. Many of the trees are over 400 years old. In 1996 only around 13% of these trees remain. A large area of south western Tasmania's pristine wilderness is world heritage and is therefore protected. Unfortunately the Styx Valley falls just outside the South West National Park and it is now under attack from logging companies.
The logging companies clear fell such areas in Tasmania and burn any remnant vegetation once they have removed any timber considered of value. The high quality timbers that are then removed are reduced to nothing more than wood chips that are then exported mainly to Japan.
From this rape and pillage of Tasmania's previously untouched, pristine landscape, Tasmania receives only AUD$10 per ton of woodchips. Reference : http://weblog.greenpeace.org/tasmania/
GLOBAL RESCUE STATION,generation 1 [existing]
In an attempt to halt the clear felling of the Styx Valley a large group of activists formed human barricades to stop the entry of bulldozers and log trucks. The centre piece to the activists protest is the GLOBAL RESCUE STATION [GRS] perched within the canopy of a grand old Styxgum fondly named Gandalf. The GRS has been manned by numerous local and international activists since November 12, 2003. Made simply from 2 simple platforms suspended by rope from the branches of Gandalf The GRS has been the centre piece of the tactics employed by the activists.
- to have a visible protest presence within the forest.
- provide a structure that, once manned, authorities would be reluctant [if not powerless] to remove.
-Through its manned presence it not only protects Gandalf but furthermore it protects a large area because if any surrounding trees were felled they may damage the GRS or Gandalf thereby endangering those activists present.
Now, with winter looming, the platform is being removed.
The proposed GRS Generation 2 protest structure is a more permanent and more drastic level of direct environmental protection.
GLOBAL RESCUE STATION,generation 2 [proposed]
GRS Generation 2 is a conceptual investigation that extrapolates the
tactics employed by GRS generation 1.
GRS gen2 is designed to:
- spread its load over three trees, rather than the canopy of a single tree, thereby protecting a number of trees per structure.
- provide a structure to protect activists from the potentially threatening winter
A bike for less than $US35
Aka : One less car
The OLC bike is a very simple, cheap, “one size fits all” plywood bicycle for the mass market. The materials are all cheap and easily available and, importantly the materials are all recyclable or recycled. OLC is quickly assembled through the use of CNC technology. The majority of elements are glued rather than mechanically fixed, providing the bike with incredible strength from modest materials.
The target market is the mass market. The price of the bike [$US35] makes it almost a disposable item and a disposable solution for our cities transportation problems. It is imagined that a company like IKEA with a loyal market looking for well designed quick and cheap solutions for everyday living could produce and sell substantial quantities of OLC using technologies already in place.
OLC has reduced the modern bicycle to its bare bones. Constructed from plywood the bike is cheap and easily constructed. The bike has only 2 gears. The gears, chain, cogs, brakes and lights are all concealed within the ply webs of the bike carcass.
Ever wanted to live in the penthouse every now and then?
Want to get away from your annoying neighbour with the big stereo and bad music taste?
Want to have a party without disturbing others?
You want a different view every now and then?
Corb V2.0 gives you the opportunity.
In Towards a New Architecture Le Corbusier wrote about the new epoch of housing he saw as intrinsic to the modern technological achievements of man. It was the machine that would make a better world. Through density, housing would not only be cheaper, but far better.
“The problem of the house is a problem of the epoch. The equilibrium of society today depends upon it. Architecture has for its first duty, in this period of renewal, that of bringing about a revision of values, a revision of the constituent elements of the house.”
Like Corbusier, we love machines, but let’s not turn the house into the machine, rather let’s use the machine to erode social hierarchy and flatten real estate economics.
Corb V2.0 takes well-designed apartments [rather than badly scaled containers] and uses modern infrastructure to deal with the areas where apartment blocks fail, ie; social hierarchy and lack of adaptability or responsiveness. Through the mobility afforded by shipping equipment, the utopian ideal is once more subverted back to a housing solution, which Corbusier dreamt of back in ‘23.
Within Corb V2.0 spatial hierarchies, traditionally determined by wealth, and the implied status these evoke, are dissolved, real estate values become flattened and a new lifestyle alternative [already adopted in mobile technologies such as phones and laptops] begins to emerge in housing.
The mobility that Corb V2.0 allows also gives the residents an unprecedented degree of control over their social environment; the programmable stacker establishes a feedback loop of user’s responses to density, orientation and height. This is fuzzy logic on a grand scale.
Corbusier said that houses should be machines for living: we think that houses should be robots. Say hi to Corb V2.0.