As promised, here is a review of the strangest project we found at the World Architecture Festival: Das Urpflanze Haus-Homage to Goethe.
The Modern Movement in architecture was based primarily in Utopian Solutions to its constructed Tasks. To complete these Tasks the Moderns combined Science [ as the desire to differentiate Nature indefinitely ] with Personal Intuition, so as to inform the architect when to make an end. Modernism’s most pressing problem then was assumed to be the construction of Mass-Housing that is truly affordable by all.
Although the real issue was stated by the Modernists, somehow it was never solved successfully by their many strategies that included but not limited to Architectural Planning at the Macro and Micro Scales that would make anyone who ever attended L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts take on a green patina , and the study of New Materials combined with Progressive Engineering that looked to Nature as the Source of its Structural Principles. The Post-Modernists who converged Science with Nostalgia avoided the Present, and its problems altogether, in favor of reviving the Past.
As we enter The Bauharoque [the third phase of Modernism] , architects are now faced with such problems as : bulging populations, the United Nations has predicted that by the year 2050 the world’s population will have reached 10 billion, and this will mean to feed and house these teeming masses will require a program as drastic as raising three more continents the size of Africa from the ocean floor, fleeing from un–winnable terrorist wars that seem to keep on escalating, and ignoring the general and continuous degrading of the world’s natural environment, believing politics is entertainment and a substitute for religion, or that popular media makes its money by pitting various interest groups and classes against each other.
What could be a more plausible or delightful solution than to live in a world-wide garden: The New Eden – populated with physically alive architecture that could exist almost anywhere on the Earth’s surface or under the ocean or up in the air, that was produced in growing time of approximately two to three months. Also as Humanity begins to explore other planets and satellites , I do not believe , people will like living in high-tech tin cans on barren wastelands. We would certainly prefer Bio-forming an alien environment in staying alive to the ill-fated Bio-Sphere Earth Projects which were simply a complex form of the 19th Century conservatory or greenhouse.
Bringing this proposal to fruition will first require prototypes created by grafting plant materials in forms generated by advancements in Combinatorial Topology – the branch of mathematics that the best chance of understanding the true nature of Biology forms. The secret of grafting and growing DAS URPFLANZE HAUS [the primordial plant house] to a mature and seeded state is the Ginkgo Biloba or The Maidenhair Tree. Native to China , it tolerates all climates and soils. It was saved from extinction in the 19th Century by being grown in certain Chinese Monasteries. The tree dates from the Permian Period of the Paleozoic Era [286 to 245 million years ago], making the Ginkgo Biloba the oldest flowering plant on earth, and the fact that it was alive during the time of the Dinosaurs ,live shoots of The Tree can connect deciduous to conifer trees , fruits to vegetables, and grasses to vines. The Ginkgo Biloba is not subject to the so-called Divine Proportion [.382…/.618…] which is actually The Proportion of Death.
Text by Paul Laffoley as presented to the competition at the World Architecture Festival 2009