In August 2022, researchers in the fields of design, art, engineering and anthropology got together for three weeks to focus their full attention on their little animal companions, insects.
An INterSpecies Exploration by biodigital Craft and manufacturing Technologies
I.N.S.E.C.T. Summer Camp featured “designing for & being with” themed workshops and co-creative events, formed by a core team of four people to contribute to and expand the current discourse around multispecies design and ethnography. The I.N.S.E.C.T. approach to multispecies design questions combines technical biodesign research aiming at designing for all living organisms, not only humans, with co-creative and embodied ways of exploring the being with all other living species and humans being with one another. This year’s summer camp used an experimental approach in which unique agendas with a shared interest: insects as human’s companions. The title insect, on the other hand, intends to express another layer of meaning: the sense of being an insect (an under-represented although very diverse and abundant animal species) and/or human as equally essential and attention-demanding inquiries.
The designing for theme emphasizes and prioritizes the component of human design that allows other living organisms to construct their own environments. In the case of those in need of nesting areas because they were lost due to human activity or because their habitats expanded due to climate change, synthetic methods that combine technology, research, design, and craft can help ecosystems by reconstructing missing ecological niches. Both of these components were discussed during an intensive design & build workshop (An INterSpecies Exploration by biodigital Craft and manufacturing Technologies) which took place at OME, NC Upon Tyne. Nine practitioners were invited to a 9-day intensive workshop to install a façade element for the OME in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The native insects were our main stakeholders in setting up the design parameters. The extrusion-based 3D printing of clay and a material-oriented digital design method allowed us to design in scales closer to the architectural boundaries of insect nests. Simultaneously, we used the different porosity and tectonic possibilities of hand-knit crocheting techniques in designing organic non-living architectures. To disentangle the challenges and ecological design questions, we invited our group of practitioners to design and 3d-print an experimental and living material prototype façade for the OME. The clay printer, kiln, and OME lab were made available to us during the workshop.
The OME is an experimental building that belongs to the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE) in Newcastle upon Tyne. It is a unique research center that brings together bio-scientists from Northumbria University with architects, designers and engineers from Newcastle University.