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Photo by Dacian Groza
Photo by Dacian Groza
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Life Object: Merging Architecture and Biology At La Biennale di Venezia 2016

Picture of Sacha Gorelik
Updated: 9 January 2017
At Italy’s 15th International Architecture Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia, a group of Israeli scientists and architects, including Nobel Prize-winning chemistry professor Dan Shechtman, will present “Life Object: Merging Architecture and Biology,”

This incredible exhibition will be showing at the Israel Pavilion from May 28th through November. During the 8 months it took to construct, the scientists, architects and curators involved did not know exactly how it would turn out.

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Photo by Dacian Groza


“Life Object” is an exploration and breaking of boundaries, to overlap science and architecture. The discovery of new information from each other’s disciplines is what allows for the creation of this breathtaking display.

The starting point of the exhibit is a gigantic bird’s nest. As explained by one of the architects working on the project; generally, when humans build, it is the exact opposite from other living creatures. Whilst we use cranes and other machinery to lift heavy materials in order to construct tall and solid buildings, animals will gather hundreds of small lightweight twigs to create a structure that is strong and stable. In this case the architectural structure created was a synthetic version of a bird’s nest.

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Photo by Dacian Groza

It was built using over 1,500 synthetic twigs. These rods were created by first doing a CT scan of a real bird’s nest. The data was then applied and used to recreate these small, lightweight twigs which make up this gigantic version.

The architects involved in this project stated that they had to remain open minded to move away from traditional construction and open their eyes to the wisdom of science and nature that surrounds us. They worked with quite a few different teams of scientists and laboratories in Israel (including the Weizmann Institution) to learn about biology and integrate it with architecture.

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Photo by Dacian Groza

In an analogous way, Arielle Blonder, –one of the architects– compared the structure of the bird’s nest to the way society can function. If society is rigid and made up of a few stiff parts it is more likely to collapse, whereas if an economy is made up of smaller more flexible parts it will create a more stable and steady society.

“Life Object” challenges traditional static construction and instead uses smart materials that will respond to the environment. They function as sensors which are triggered by a visitor’s presence. The team used very advanced materials such as Kevlar and fiberglass that are traditionally used to build state of the art boats and planes and applied them to create a living, breathing structure.

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Photo by Dacian Groza

The second part of the exhibition includes seven studies that were created by the teams of scientists and architects. They put forward hypothetical scenarios, using biological paradigms that would integrate science and architecture in order to solve local and global architectural issues.

Here are two examples of some local issues, as quoted from the exhibition:

“The Nanocellulose Desert Shelter Project– is a collaboration between NCArchitects, Guy Austern and Prof. Oded Shoseyov, a nano-biotechnologist. The project hopes to explore the potential of nanocellulose, (which is composed of recycled natural fibers) and design an educational and cultural center for the Bedouin community in Israel’s Negev desert. ”

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Photo by Dacian Groza


“The Dead Sea Resurrection Project is a collaborative project created by Prof. Arch. Dan Eytan & Arch. Ruth Lahav, and Dr. Boaz Tadmor M.D. They have proposed a link between the lake’s degeneration to TTTS, Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Unfortunately, because of the exploitation of the Dead sea’s resources it is drying up on the northern side. And the southern side of the sea, threatens to flood nearby hotels. Creating the analogy between TTTS and the lakes’ current crisis, will hopefully open up a host of new attitudes to attempting to solve this pressing environmental crisis.”

The team of scientists, architects and curators hope that this is the start of a longer-lasting initiative, one where they will continue their research and discoveries in this amazing collaborative project. They also hope to present the exhibit in Israel as well.