The LifeObject book and exhibition presented in the Israel Pavilion at the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture examine the influence of biological paradigms on the world of architecture, including the future implications of transposing and merging these two seemingly divergent disciplines. As opposed to biology, which focuses on concepts relating to life and ongoing change, architecture is traditionally perceived as a field of inert entities, focusing on the ability of buildings to survive trans-generationally and serve as sites which preserve the past. The exhibition examines new relationships being formed between man and his environment which invalidate the binary distinction between nature and culture and re-frame the architectural environment as part of a wider ecology. LifeObject treats architectural activity according to a material perception of the world, moving beyond a purely ontological framework in order to encompass the ethical and critical insights which arise when architecture is contextualized within cultural and political history.
This book revolves around the blurred boundaries between that which is considered ‘nature’, and that which is not. The platform established by the exhibition is expressed through four sections of informational typologies which are interwoven throughout the book, ranging from case studies to theoretical elaborations. Their dispersal throughout the book suggests a multiplicy of possible relationships between the various topics and fields dealt with in the exhibition.
The theoretical section is comprised of five articles that deal with the various aspects underlying the relationship of man to environment, as suggested by the biological paradigm. The curatorial text at the beginning of the book lays out the theoretical foundation for the exhibition, engaging extensively with the concept of resilience, which constitutes LifeObject’s central conceptual axis. Breaking down the oppositions that have long separated the natural from the artificial enhances the sustainability and resilience of human systems, be they architectural, political, or cultural. An additional text treats natural models that exist between organisms and their environments, and the questions that result from their transference to human architectural contexts. The three remaining texts focus on the history of the relationship between man and his environment in the local Israeli context, focusing on the complexity stemming from Israel’s patterns of settlement and its geopolitical situation.
The core of the book consists of a series of texts that deal with the LifeObject, the outcome of architectural-scientific research, and the exhibition’s central installation. These texts relate to the structural and material elements of the installation, as well as to the research and design methodologies that frame it. The images of the LifeObject are distributed throughout the book, documenting various stages in the development of the installation and the creation of its diverse components.
The second part of the exhibition consists of seven studies created by teams of architects and scientists who were invited to propose speculative scientific-architectural scenarios, using biological paradigms, to relate to local and global planning and architectural questions. Texts relating to those projects are intercalated between the theoretical texts, reverberating with them, and proposing various interpretations of the connection between biology and architecture with regards to Israeli space.
Interspersed throughout the book are fragments of a biological-architectural phrase book, which constitutes a conceptual envelope for the exhibition and the book. In its framework, biological concepts receive architectural interpretations stemming from both local and global examples. The phrase book encourages new ways of thinking about architecture and biology, with the terms serving as a tagging system which is spread throughout the book. Echoing the overall approach of the LifeObject, the entire book functions according to a rhizomatic structure, without any clear borderlines.