John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
It's even creepier than you might've thought.
Recall Christopher Green, the Royal College of Art design visionary who wants to fill your office with crickets? Well, he recently got in touch with a bunch more visualizations of his chirping madhouse, where electronically tagged bugs function both as a decentralized "hard drive" and a sustainable, protein-rich food source.
Green would like his "hybrid urban architecture" to go up in the "Silicon Roundabout," home of London's web companies, where it could house a start-up company that doesn't mind now and then clearing clumps of renegade Gryllidae out of the Xerox machine. As you can see, the fabric of the walls is teeming with buglife. There's no word yet on how the building managers would feed this horde, which is split up among hundreds of roomlike "cells," or how they'd deal with its tons of excreta. Maybe it could be compacted into a fuel source to generate electricity?
I'm guessing this office would clear out pretty quick the day that somebody finds a cricket floating in the water cooler. Still, these are some very cool renderings. Here's Green with some context on his insectoid dream:
Information is food. In an age of omnipresent digital data, continually grown across webs of connectivity, the digital crop has become as critical a nutrient to the city as its natural counterpart. Like agriculture, data-farming is operating far above subsistence level, generating exponential surplus. How can we design the city to sustain its own data-harvest?
An office tower for technological startups, situated at the heart of Silicon Roundabout, becomes the site of a hybrid urban agriculture that takes the insect as its main protagonist; a compact sustainable food source and a unit of information via the process of digital tagging. Breeding within the walls and floors of the structure, the insects charge the building with their capacity to carry data.
With a performative architecture constantly replenishing its insect numbers, the structure becomes entangled in a symbiotic play-off between its two critical energy sources, food and information. The life of the building hangs in the balance; low levels of data consumption force the excess insects to be excreted as food. However, excessive data consumption compromises the insects’ reproduction rate, spelling the death of the building.
The "food core," where crickets would be ground up for dinner:
Your future workplace?
All images courtesy of Christopher Green.