Magpie that I am, whilst reading The Selfish Gene and a Wired story about "An Architect's Wet Dream
" in Wired I find myself thinking all sorts of things about tags, folksonomy, biology and architecture. I'm lately convinced that the structure of the information that emerges
from sites that utilise metadata ecologies closely resembles a termite mound.
François Roche is a French architect whose firm, R&Sie, is aptly pronounced "heresy." Among his brainchildren is Dusty Relief, an edifice under construction in Bangkok which is surrounded by electrically charged wire that "grows fur" by statically attracting airborne filth. He has also conceived stealth habitats, hypothetical communities hidden from regulators and critics by vast sheets of camo netting. Architects are supposed to draw up plans, erect structures, and finish on time and under budget. Roche is exploring what happens when the usual constraints are allowed to fall away and things get wild and loose.
Structure of Macrotermes mounds
The basic problem for understanding these structures is this: how can the millions of individuals in a colony work together to build a structure many times larger than themselves that has a characteristic architecture? Is there a "collective plan" for the mound that is encoded into the assemblages of termite brains that make up a colony? Or is there a more prosaic explanation? More...