In the next 100 years we can expect human population to reach 11 billion people. What does this increased massive growth look like? We used a Dymaxion map grid to communicate an all-encompassing view of world population density in cities through data. The map visualizes the earth as one entire urbanized place, instead of unconnected settlements, towns, municipalities, and disparate regions. Our Bio City Map displays population density as a parametric graph on the front and the back is made with living biosynthetic matter. These living elements focus on numerous mega-city inhabitants, genetically designed and grown inside petri dishes. Our novel approach experimented with living populations that consisted of hundreds of thousands of bacteria colonies. We preferred to graph population density with actual colonies that were alive to challenge typical computer driven processes.
We chose colonies of E. coli as a method of analog computation using synthetic biology. Population density was represented in two different forms of bioluminescent E. coli under UV light. Glowing red E. coli represented future census projections, while green represented existing demographic conditions you would find in cities. We used the dilution method in biology to show the range of densities of E. coli populations in each petri dish. Micro-stencils derived from CAD files shaped the E. coli into specific geometries that display the current geopolitical boundaries in cities.
Why should this be considered for an Innovation Award? This is an interdisciplinary project that involved cartographers, urban planners, biologists, and architects, which completed a manifestation of the near future for human population density. We argue that most nations cannot view the effects of planetary population density through the lens of just one city or region. Instead we aimed to reveal the long-range effects of immense human population in areas of present and speculative urban intensity. Moreover, we expanded the technique of "bacteriography" (bacteria photography) to shift scale and underscore the highest zones of growth.
Ultimately, the bacterial shapes grow to reveal variant patterns of biological transformation in urban regions. By using biosynthetic based materials, we expect to narrow the gap between idealized mathematical interpretations and observable events in nature.
Our team consisted of a consortium of individuals trained and/or working at the Harvard University Medical School, Harvard GSD, MIT Media Lab, NYU, Cooper Union, and local nonprofit organizations.
Terreform ONE; Mitchell Joachim, Nurhan Gokturk, Melanie Fessel, Maria Aiolova, Oliver Medvedik. Research Fellows; Chloe Byrne, Adrian De Silva, Daniel Dewit, Renee Fayzimatova, Alena Field, Nicholas Gervasi, Julien Gonzalez, Lucas Hamren, Patty Kaishian, Ahmad Khan, Laasyapriya Malladi, Karan Maniar, Ricardo Martin Coloma, Puja Patel, Merve Poyraz, Mina Rafiee, Mahsoo Salimi, Manjula Singh, Diego Wu Law.
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The Bio City World Map is a forecast of the world population density in the next 100 years. It has been modeled by combining all the world cities together as one continuous growth system. The current phenomena of explosive growth - the "Mega-city" (Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Lagos) and the "Instant City" (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ordos) merge together into a continuous urban construct. As human population expands, we see it as one single macro city spread across the continents. Other cities, mainly in the developed world, (Detroit, Leipzig, Manchester) demonstrate the opposite tendency, because they are shrinking at a significant rate.
We argue that most nations cannot view the effects of planetary population density through the lens of just one city or region. Instead we aim to reveal the long-range effects of massive human population in areas of present and future urban intensity.
On the reverse side of the mapping installation are focal points of biological details in specific localized city forms. They zoom in on density zones that are dispersed throughout the globe. These points use the technique of "bacteriography" (bacteria photography) to shift scale and underscore the highest zones of growth. Our method creates a real-time parametric display using Gammaproteo Bacterium Escherichia coli Strain K12 in agar medium that has been genetically modified to express color under UV light. The strains used are harmless variants of E. coli, commonly studied all across Europe and the United States. They have been utilized in schools for decades without any safety issues and are considered non-pathogenic and innocuous.
The Bio City World Map forms have been transformed with DNA that encodes fluorescent proteins found in sea anemones and jellyfish. This enables those bacteria to emit red, green, yellow and blue light under long wave UV bulbs. The fluorescent proteins are based on the discoveries of Shimomura, Chalfie and Tsien, who were honored with a Nobel Prize for their work in 2008. Ultimately, the bacterial photos grow to reveal variant patterns of biological transformation in urban regions.
Rather than using computer code to mimic growth in nature, this method is the actual iterative vehicle of growth itself. Bacteria in this constrained form and under the right conditions, behave almost identically to urban population patterns. Moreover, the resolution of these bio-based city patterns will change with more nuanced biological inputs. In many cases, they are as good as computational versions because they are the source which algorithms are derived from. In time, the mapping installation may illustrate patterns yet unobserved in typical digital models. It is this emergent and unfettered map of population we wish to make into spectacle. By using bio lab based materials, we expect to narrow the gap between idealized mathematical interpretations and observable events in nature.