Biomimicry and Synthetic Biology in Space Travel

Nude in SpaceI recently contributed concept images to the University of Copenhagen Synthetic Biology Department .That type of research is fascinating and gets my creative mind wondering.  In this case into space.  I always try to see design through the lens of Biomimicry. Space technology seems to be dark on this matter.  Space is hard on the body, extra terrestrial landscapes are devoid of the raw materials humans use to metabolize.  Normal solutions isolate and insulate the body against these forces providing an artificial environment to survive and providing stored resources shuttled from earth. If one of the great contributions of 21st century science is biotechnology and the mastery of genomics what does that mean for our existence in space and beyond. I looked to the butterfly as an inspiration for my exploration.  The butterfly goes through a lengthy process of metamorphosis to enact change in its physical character for a different stage of its life.  What if people could use synthetic biology to metamorphose into a body that could survive in martian climates? I found a complex organism that NASA has shown can live in deep space What if the long journey is spent going through the biological change? In visual searches for my collage to illustrate this concept I consistently found Chrysalis under the protection of understory leaves.  It made me realize the synergy between Solar Collection of Understory Leaves and how that efficient structure harnesses light so well in low light areas, maybe some of the concepts could be applied to the design of Giant Solar Sail craft to ferry pioneers to distant planets and through deep space. Perhaps at the end of the journey the craft could facilitate biological production of complex substances needed in the new frontier.Biomimicry Space SailMaybe it could be upcycled into a Solar Furnace like this factory in France  and used to produce shelter and objects like a giant solar sinter machine Solar Sinter

using free energy and materials available on almost any world or even in deep space.martian earth dwellingCome to think of it maybe thats how the Dogon people ended up on earth dogon1web

Professional Photos of Finished Coloniatecne

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These photos were taken by Peter Prato. An excellent photographer.

Coloniatecne – Panels installed

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Coloniatecne – Progress

Coloniatecne – Day 4

Coloniatechne Installation in San Jose September 6-14th

Hi Friends and Colleagues,

If anyone interested in being part of a team to help install an interactive art pavilion for the city of San Jose, we have won a commission from the San Jose Public Art Program in conjunction with the 0-1 Biennale and are about to begin on site assembly downtown September 6-14th. The structure and panels have already been CNC milled and are ready to go! We have some room for paid interns and room for volunteers. Please contact Jess Austin, Ripon Deleon or Charles Lee  know if you are someone you know is interested. Contact page contains info for emailing us. Below are some production photos of the project and this link to the abridged DRAWING SET


This is a project from my work at Perkins+Will, with Mario Guttman and Tim Meador. I hope you enjoy!

Originally posted on Perkins+Will Grasshopper Users Group:

HI There,

Mario Guttman and Tim Meador have developed a new geometry importer from Grasshopper to Revit. I have started using it on a project and wanted to share the initial results with you. You can download all of the Hummingbird items here


this project is in it’s initial design phase and we are trying out a variety of skin systems/types on a fairly conservative massing. The developer wants to get an innovative design while not giving up sq’, how unusual right. So my initial thought was that grasshopper could really help that iterative process, wouldn’t it be great if we could speed up the Revit process as well.


well all Tim and I had to do was get Mario excited about this and away we go!  As always just email me and I will share the definitions etc. with you. Good luck!


View original

Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art, and Invention Show features Dissipative System by Charles Lee


Charles Lee, USA

Dissipative System


Digital prints, 23.63 x 31.5 inches

Thermochromatic tile wall installation, 46.5 x 27 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Bios Design Collective

The Dissipative System is a study into possible materials and construction techniques for a new biomimetic building. The house in this illustrated model uses a skin of thermo-chromatic tiles to regulate heat and curved smart solar control glass to regulate light transmission. Glazed ceramic cladding, such as the tiles on display, is used for the interior and exterior of the shell. The coated ceramic becomes lighter in high temperatures to reflect more light and darker in cool temperatures to absorb more heat—a system similarly seen in nature. In many color-changing species, including fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans, temperature influences the distribution of pigment in cells. The resulting darkening or lightening aids heat absorption and reflection to help maintain the animal’s temperature.

The Field Museum text:
“Reptiles change color to control body temperature. The pigment melanin colors the skin of most animals—including humans. Reptiles can expand or contract melanin within individual cells. When melanin expands, skin darkens and absorbs heat; when it contracts, skin lightens and reflects heat. To absorb more heat, snakes flatten their bodies and lie perpendicular to the sun’s rays. At night, they coil tightly to retain heat. (Imagine buildings that change color and shape!)”
— Alan Resetar
Collection Manager,

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles,

The Field Museum

 Go see the show at the Field Museum in Chicago
A special thanks to Randy Rosenberg, Zorona Bosnic and Alesha Colberg Martinez for the support and opportunity
Find out more about Artworks For Change

ImageTile DiagramFinal