TED Fellow Dr Rachel Armstrong is a medical doctor with qualifications in general practice, a multi-media producer, a science fiction author and an arts collaborator whose current research explores the possibilities of architectural design and mythologies about new technology. Rachel is currently collaborating with international scientists and architects to explore cutting-edge, sustainable technologies by developing “metabolic materials” in an experimental setting. These materials possess some of the properties of living systems and couple artificial structures to natural ones in the anticipation that our buildings will undergo an “origins of life”-style transition from inert to living matter and become part of the biosphere. By generating metabolic materials, it is hoped that cities will be able to replace the energy they draw from the environment, respond to the needs of their populations and eventually become regarded as “alive” in the same way that we think about parks or gardens. Since metabolic materials are made from terrestrial chemistry, they are not exclusive to First World countries and have the potential to transform urban environments worldwide.
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