Symbiotic Machines for Space Exploration

Autonomous Practices
Wed 11 Oct
In the futuristic setting of the colonization of Mars students and teachers of the WdKA are collaborating with designers, artists and scientists “on the edge of what is imaginable”.

The collaboration started after the residency at the WdKA of Ivan Henriques, who worked on his “Symbiotic Machines” at our school.

Artist Ivan Henriques and scientist Raoul Frese (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) started an interdisciplinary project Symbiotic Machines for Space Exploration (SyMSE). In this project designers and scientists of different fields come together, working and thinking on the ways to colonise Space. This project was selected by NWO - Research Through Design Award. Institutes involved are WdKA, the European Space Agency in Noordwijk (ESA), The University of Amsterdam (UVA) and others.

The speculative design goal of the project is “to create an autonomous system for enhancing terrestrial ecosystems and facilitating atmospheric formation on other planets through artificial photosynthesis.” What this really means is stretching the current developments in design and science to the limits.

It is very interesting for students and teachers of the WdKA to cooperate in this project. Workshops are given at ESA, the European Space Agency in Noordwijk, the Hybrid Forms Lab takes place at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and there are study programs at our school, the WdKA.

The colonisation of the Moon and Mars is challenging for both designers and scientists. They have to think beyond the limits of what we normally experience. In this ultra innovative but also speculative domain designers and scientists meet in their re-thinking of all developing fields like new materials, interaction, products, garments, energy harvesting, recycling of materials and architecture.

The collaboration is enriching for everybody involved. Students and teachers of the WdKA meet scientists, encounter different environments of study and work in Space Labs at ESA and laboratories at the UVA, the scientists marvel at our “stations”.