How to design sustainable environments that really move us? We believe that sustainable and healthy living of the future is adaptive and interactive like natural systems. To achieve this, over the last years, Studio Samira Boon has developed digitally produced origami designs to implement as lightweight and dynamic 3D textile installations that generate flexible space. As the next step in this merging nature and technology development, the studio launches HORTUS BIONICA i.c.w. Sensor Lab Utrecht and with the support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.

HORTUS BIONICA explores our relationship to nature to foster healthier forms of architecture based on biophilic design principles. It is a garden of bionic plants – the new species of architectural elements that are able to carry out a number of smart functions and optimise flows (energy, light, sound, movement) within public spaces. Our biophilic approach goes beyond adding natural elements to unnatural indoor environments. HORTUS BIONICA recognises and amplifies the nature like characteristics found in architectural materials, technology and data. By highlighting these properties, our aim is to promote architecture as an adaptive garden with a strong emotional and sensory dimension that actively supports the user’s wellbeing.

To behave in symbiosis with the ever-changing needs of the users and environmental stimuli, HORTUS BIONICA learns from ecosystems. The installations imitate morphologies and behaviours found in natural organisms to generate systems with healthy dynamic processes similar to micro ecosystems. HORTUS BIONICA sprouts are plant-like structures: inheriting their traits from DNA – programming code, having biocomposite roots and stems for support, movement and power and tactile textile flowers for interaction with the other species. This leads to artificial natural organisms that change their shape in an automated way in relation to the ever changing needs and wishes. The possibilities offered by this garden combining nature and technology are enormous. Each inhabitant of HORTUS BIONICA garden has its own unique functional application and character behaviourally and visually. The first 2 ‘sprouts’ of HORTUS BIONICA are “~ ~ ~” (sonic blossom) and “>> • <<” (proxi flower). Launched in March 2020, they are designed for the specific challenges of public spaces (including workspaces, atria, restaurants and libraries).

HORTUS BIONICA species is growing. The next sprout to be launched in 2 months will respond to light and temperature.

~ ~ ~ (Sonic blossom)

“~ ~ ~” opens and closes like an inflorescence reacting to sound. This installation improves acoustic experience and therefore wellbeing and productivity.  By installing multiple pieces of “~ ~ ~” we can map sound distribution to create an aurally pleasing soundscapes that enhance mood and aesthetics.

>> • << (Proxi flower)

“>> • <<” is all about encounters that move us. With integrated vicinity sensors it directly responds to the user by opening and closing to generate temporary wall screens. Within large spaces, arrays of “>> • <<” offer flexible divisions, privacy and emotionally affiliated environments.

The research is an interdisciplinary collaboration with Sensor Lab. We applied with our proposal to the Creative Industries Fund NL and received funding to start the project.

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