Research Topic

Urbanspheres: Cities as New Natures

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About this Research Topic

According to the Global Footprint Network in 2016 the Earth Overshoot Day lands on August 8th; in less than 8 months, Humanity has therefore exhausted Earth's budget for the year. For the remaining days we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This is made possible by the existence of what we call Urbansphere, the global apparatus of contemporary urbanity, a dense network of informational, material and energetic infrastructures that sustain our increasingly demanding metabolism.

This research topic groups papers proposing a radical revision of the contemporary Urbansphere by suggesting novel terms for its sustainable co-evolution with the Biosphere. It investigates visionary models of urban development that respond to principles of biologic self-organization, and that operate by embedding computational logics onto material substrata, the embodied algorithms of the future Urbanshpere.

The articles, papers and projects collected here aim at perfecting, discussing and contextualizing an emerging design method based on a non-anthropocentric interpretation of the urban landscape, intended as a territory of self-organization and co-evolution of multiple dynamical systems, including ecological systems, infrastructures and technological systems, artistic practices and social groups.

The topic includes the notion of collective intelligence re-interpreted to envision resilient and adaptive architecture and urban design models; it encompasses the description of innovative methods of building with nature, focussed on techniques for harvesting the morphogenetic potential of natural system to construct inhabitable urban landscapes. Issues of constructability, embodied energy and ecologic footprint will be re-described in systemic terms as part of novel architecture prototypes.

The core speculation reflects on the idea of ‘re-metabolizing the city’, with the focus on production of energy, food and recycling of urban waste and air pollution. It is a redefinition of these categories in a future when biotechnological innovation will reach the realm of architecture and urban design; a time when what today we call waste or pollution may become nutrient for the growth of novel urban morphologies powered by hybrid bio-architectural prototypes.

The convergence of biotechnology and information technology applied to landscape and urban design is considered by many pioneers as one of the most promising future development for our civilization this research topic aims at envisioning how this future may be actualized.


Keywords: Urbansphere, Biosphere, Embodied Algorithms, Urban Metabolism, Self-organisation, Collective Intelligence, Non-anthropocentric design, Architectural Morphogenesis, Co-evolution


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

According to the Global Footprint Network in 2016 the Earth Overshoot Day lands on August 8th; in less than 8 months, Humanity has therefore exhausted Earth's budget for the year. For the remaining days we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This is made possible by the existence of what we call Urbansphere, the global apparatus of contemporary urbanity, a dense network of informational, material and energetic infrastructures that sustain our increasingly demanding metabolism.

This research topic groups papers proposing a radical revision of the contemporary Urbansphere by suggesting novel terms for its sustainable co-evolution with the Biosphere. It investigates visionary models of urban development that respond to principles of biologic self-organization, and that operate by embedding computational logics onto material substrata, the embodied algorithms of the future Urbanshpere.

The articles, papers and projects collected here aim at perfecting, discussing and contextualizing an emerging design method based on a non-anthropocentric interpretation of the urban landscape, intended as a territory of self-organization and co-evolution of multiple dynamical systems, including ecological systems, infrastructures and technological systems, artistic practices and social groups.

The topic includes the notion of collective intelligence re-interpreted to envision resilient and adaptive architecture and urban design models; it encompasses the description of innovative methods of building with nature, focussed on techniques for harvesting the morphogenetic potential of natural system to construct inhabitable urban landscapes. Issues of constructability, embodied energy and ecologic footprint will be re-described in systemic terms as part of novel architecture prototypes.

The core speculation reflects on the idea of ‘re-metabolizing the city’, with the focus on production of energy, food and recycling of urban waste and air pollution. It is a redefinition of these categories in a future when biotechnological innovation will reach the realm of architecture and urban design; a time when what today we call waste or pollution may become nutrient for the growth of novel urban morphologies powered by hybrid bio-architectural prototypes.

The convergence of biotechnology and information technology applied to landscape and urban design is considered by many pioneers as one of the most promising future development for our civilization this research topic aims at envisioning how this future may be actualized.


Keywords: Urbansphere, Biosphere, Embodied Algorithms, Urban Metabolism, Self-organisation, Collective Intelligence, Non-anthropocentric design, Architectural Morphogenesis, Co-evolution


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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