Tech Fancy - Unnatural Selection Terreform ONE

Tech Fancy - Unnatural Selection, No.3 12, 2017.
Brave New Bio: A New Breed of Tech Company Returns to Nature

Photography by Rich Gilligan / Reporting by New Lab

Anyone passing the Brooklyn Navy Yard docks in the last year is likely to have glimpsed a white, spiked structure that could be mistaken for a punk-rock igloo. Instead, it’s a cricket shelter by Terreform One, New Lab’s only nonprofit futurist think-tank. Terreform works with clients to reimagine buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces. What if we stopped attempting to halt rising sea levels and started designing Manhattan's streets like Venice?

"Cities themselves, those are hundred year plans. My grad students’ grad students will be solving for that," says Terreform co-founder Mitchell Joachim, an MIT and Harvard alum who now teaches at NYU. "But we develop these arguments to stand the test of time, and be teased and tweaked so that others can add their voices and adjust as these ideas go along."

The cricket structure, teeming with tens of thousands of insects, is a reimagining of a standard emergency shelter. To solve for potential food shortages, the shelter houses both humans and crickets (a potent protein source that, by UN estimates, is eaten by over two billion people per year).

Today Terreform's working with a construction group in Soho to design a building that "rewilds New York": a seven-story structure with windowed walls that would function as a sanctuary for thousands of endangered monarch butterflies. Terreform has designed a sensing system to monitor the monarchs’ health on-site.

"We're trying to train technology to care for an organism that's very fragile," Joachim says.

He’s talking about butterflies, but might as well be speaking of the earth itself.


Monarch Sanctuary New York City, Terreform ONE

Terreform ONE 
The Monarch Sanctuary (Lepidoptera terrarium) will be eight stories of new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC. Programmatically, the building space will mostly contain retail and office life. Yet central to its purpose is serving as a semi-porous breeding ground, waystation, and sanctuary for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It is a pioneering building – one that aims to be ecologically generous, weaving butterfly conservation strategies into its design through the integration of monarch habitat in its façades, roof, and atrium. Not just a building envelope, the edifice is a new biome of coexistence for people, plants, and butterflies.

The monarch butterfly of North America is a threatened species. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services is currently assessing whether the monarch needs to be granted “endangered species” status, while the monarch population erodes due to the combined forces of agricultural pesticides and habitat loss. Monarchs are a delicate presence in New York City, migrating each year from Mexico and Florida to the city’s precious green spaces to lay their eggs on the milkweed plant.

This project will vitally serve as a large-scale Lepidoptera terrarium. It will bolster the monarch’s presence in the city through two strategies: open plantings of milkweed and nectar flowers on the roof, rear façade, and terrace will provide breeding ground and stopover habitat for wild monarchs, while enclosed colonies in the atrium and street side double-skin façade will grow monarch population. The insects will be periodically released to join the wild population, enhancing overall species population numbers.

Our connection to the community of NYC is essential. The prime location will attract attention and educate the public on Monarch extinction. It has a total area of 30,000 square feet and is to be located in the heart of Nolita, between Soho and the burgeoning art district along the Bowery, and a few blocks west of the New Museum. The site is just around the corner from the Storefront for Art and Architecture and currently exists as two plots occupied by small residential buildings, which will be combined into a single property.

Although it is a relatively small commercial building by New York standards, the building will present a striking public face and a powerful argument in favor of a diversity of life forms in the city. It will face Petrosino Square, a small triangular paved public park, named after a fallen NYPD lieutenant. The façade of the Monarch Sanctuary building will add a lush vertical surface to the edge of the square.

The operable double-skin street façade, with a diagrid structure infilled glass at the outer layer and with “pillows” of EFTE foil at the inner layer, encloses a careful climate - controlled space, 3’ deep and 7 stories tall. This open “vertical meadow,” the terrarium proper, serves as an incubator and safe haven for Monarchs in all seasons. It contains suspended milkweed vines and flowering plants to nourish the butterflies at each stage of their life cycle. Hydrogel bubbles on the EFTE help maintain optimal humidity levels, and sacs of algae help purify the air and the building wastewater. Solar panels on the roof provide renewable energy to assist in the powering the facilities. Butterflies can come and go as they need from the building skin system.

Other features of the project are equally in service of the insects. LED screens at the street level provide magnified live views of the caterpillars and butterflies in the vertical meadow, which also connects to a multi-story atrium adjacent to the circulation core. Interior partitions are constructed from mycelium, and additional planting at the ceiling enhances the interior atmosphere and building biome. Hovering around the building, a few butterfly-shaped drones take readings and maps of the immediate microclimate. They return every few minutes to recharge, and their combined real-time data works to maintain the butterfly health.

The building is intended to serve as an object lesson in enhancing the urban environment with green technologies, including plant life and other creatures, in designing for other species, and in conveying images of new possibilities for the urban environment. This project alone will not save the Monarch but it will crucially raise awareness about our much-loved insect residents.

Client: Kenmare Square LLC. Jackie Jangana, and Andrew Kriss
Team: Terreform ONE
Principals: Mitchell Joachim, Christian Hubert
Project Architect: Nicholas Gervasi
Kristina Goncharova, Yucel Guven, Zhan Xu
Research: Larissa Belcic, Shahira Hammad, Deniz Onder, Aleksandr Plotkin
Tech Consultant: Anouk Wipprecht
Sponsor: Intel

Copyright © 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved 
Monarch Sanctuary™ Patent Pending. 



Conversation with Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE in Arch2O

Arch2O: Zack Saunders (founder of ARCH[or]studio and Arch2O contributing editor) and Mitchell Joachim share thoughts on heroic feats of architecture, the distinction between a ‘Jaws’ problem and a ‘Piranha’ problem, building cities from scratch and the future of Terreform ONE. The following is an excerpt from a piece included in his forthcoming book: “Design with Life: Biotech Architecture and Resilient Cities”, co-edited with Maria Aiolova. 


Intel Shift 2017 with Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE

Intel’s Premier Business EVENT. We live in an age of massive technological disruption. For business and IT leaders, the digital reset is creating new revenue opportunities as well as new challenges, prompting sweeping technology investment decisions. Join Intel and an exclusive set of your peers at SHIFT 2017 and experience digital business transformation in action. Hear from leading visionaries and technology innovators – and prepare to SHIFT your business for the future.

  • Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, best-selling author, and co-founder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy
  • Mitchell Joachim, PhD, innovator, and co-founder at Terreform ONE. Chosen by Wired Magazine for "The Smart List” and selected by Rolling Stone for “The 100 People Who Are Changing America”



LafargeHolcim Award Winners Terreform ONE.

WINNER: Cricket Shelter and Modular Edible Insect Farm by Terreform ONE
This pavilion demonstrates the possibility of local insect farming as a form of protein with low-resource intensity, New York, United States. This project proposes an alternative to animal meat production that emits just 1 % of the greenhouse gas emissions and requires 0.001 % of the land to produce the same amount of protein annually when compared to beef production.


Shukhov Lab Moscow, Lecture with Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE

Shukhov Lab Moscow, Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design,
National Research University Higher School of Economics, with Vicente Guallart.

Natural/ Designed Ecologies at Kent State with Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE

Kent State College of Architecture + Environmental Design - CAED
The 5th annual Water and Land symposium will provide a forum for today’s understandings of natural systems and contemporary innovative design approaches for improving cities and society. Topics of conservation/recreation; living materials/fabrication; and sustainable/urbanism will create discussion on the limits of knowledge and the road to greater environmental responsibility. Held on October 4th and 5th 2017, this symposium will attract more than 300 attendees from the many universities, federal, state and regional agencies, and private companies that populate northeastern Ohio and surrounding states. 

The conference will highlight new approaches to a variety of environmental and social issues through distinguished speakers and formal and informal discussions. A plenary session will set the stage for breakout sessions and posters in the afternoon. Breakout sessions will focus on “Conservation and Recreation,” “Living Materials,” and “Sustainable Urbanism.” These breakout sessions will be linked to poster sessions and will provide an opportunity for more specific discussions focused on key underlying issues. Registration is free and open to the public.

Keynote Address: Tim Beatley, University of Virginia, 
"Living Materials" Keynote: Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE
Reid Coffman, Architecture, Kent State University
James Fraser, Vanderbilt University
Laia Mogas Soldevila, Tufts University

Margarita Benitez, Fashion, Kent State University

Full Schedule at https://www.kent.edu/water


Ambiguous Territory Exhibition with Terreform ONE at University of Michigan

Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural at A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan.

Exhibition Participants: Ellie Abrons, Paula Gaetano Adi + Gustavo Crembil, amid.cero9, Amy Balkin, Philip Beesley, Ursula Biemann, The Bittertang Farm, Borderlands Research Group, Edward Burtynsky, Bradley Cantrell, Design Earth, Mark Dion, Formlessfinder, Lindsey french, Adam Fure, Future Cities Lab, Geoarchitecture @ Westminster, Geofutures @ Rensselaer Architecture, Harrison Atelier, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Lisa Hirmer, Lydia Kallipoliti + Andreas Theodoridis, Perry Kulper, Sean Lally, Lateral Office + LCLA, LiquidFactory,  LNDSCPR, Meredith Miller + Thom Moran, NaJa & deOstos, NEMESTUDIO, Mark Nystrom, Office for Political Innovation, The Open Workshop, pneumastudio, Rachele Riley, Alexander Robinson, RVTR, Smout Allen, smudge studio, Neil Spiller, Terreform ONE, Unknown Fields, Marina Zurkow.


TED City of Tomorrow, Delhi and London

Two TED Talks in two cities for the City of Tomorrow Symposium at the London Symphony Orchestra, St. Luke's building UK, and Aerocity, Delhi, India Sponsored by Ford.
TED/Paul Clarke


The NYU Gallatin Climate Change Initiative: A Conference

Co-sponsored by Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, NYU Department of Anthropology, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, and The Climate Working Group
When it comes to climate change, the work of scientists is conclusive: in the past half-century, that work has produced a widely accepted consensus that the planet is warming and that humans are responsible. Though scientists must continue to monitor the amount of warming and to track its effects, climate change is a complex problem whose unfolding will reach beyond such analysis. Recognizing this, scholars in fields other than the natural sciences have recently begun to mobilize their disciplinary expertise to respond to climate change.


Tallinn Architecture Biennale - TAB with Terreform ONE, Mitchell Joachim

bioTallinn is the theme for TAB 2017 curated by architect, urban designer, and ecologist Claudia Pasquero. Symposium participants include; 

Raul Järg, Chairman or the Estonian Centre of Architecture, and Co-Director of TAB.

Lucy Bullivant PhD, curator, author. Place vision strategist and founder/creative director of Urbanista.org.

Bart Lootsma, historian, theoretician, critic and curator in the fields of architecture, design and the visual arts, Dean and Professor for Architectural Theory at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Innsbruck.

Marco Poletto, architect and co-founder, ecoLogicStudio, London.

Marcos Cruz, architect, Professor of Innovative Environments, the Bartlett, UCL (University College London) Faculty of the Built Environment, London, and founding director, biotA Lab, UCL.

Matias del Campo, Taubman College - University of Michigan

Mitchell Joachim PhD, architect, co-founder, Terreform ONE, NYC, and Associate Professor at NYU.

Exhibits and talks by Rachel Armstrong, 
Areti Markopoulou, Alisa Andrasek, Maj Plemenitas, Edouard Cabay, Heather Barnett, Emmanouel Zaroukas, Renee Puusepp, Gilles Retsin and more.



DETAIL Congress: Transformation - Architecture in Change in Frankfurt

Society is changing, and so is urban space. Individualization, hybridization, and fragmentation processes are also increasingly manifest in the physical space: shopping malls, urban entertainment centers, gated communities, urban gardening, community housing and gentrification processes characterize and alter the urban space. Architects, city planners and the municipal administration must, therefore, reflect the status quo critically and shape change. For urban space is only viable if the stock is intelligently transformed and the new is integrated sensitively. Strategic strategies for urban, rural and infrastructure, which are resilient and socially compatible, are necessary.

Birgitte Bundesen Svarre, Gehl Architects, Kopenhagen
Julien Callot, lacaton & vassal, Paris
Martin Haas, haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050, Stuttgart
Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE, New York
Caroline Nagel, COBE Architects, Kopenhagen
Tobias Nolte, Certain Measures, Berlin/Boston
Alexander Rieck, Fraunhofer-Institut, Stuttgart
Rudi Scheuermann, ARUP, Berlin
Christian Veddeler, UNStudio, Amsterdam; in Kooperation mit MDT-tex


New book: School of the Earth 2061

Anker, Peder and Mitchell Joachim (eds.) School of the Earth: Gallatin Reimagined 2061, CreateSpace.

School of the Earth is a vision for what the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University should be like in 2061 at Albert Gallatin's 300th birthday. The envisioned new school is designed with our planet in mind. It is a building designed to fit the local ecosystem. This book was born from a dedicated class of students lead by professors Peder Anker and Mitchell Joachim. Humans have done enough taking, the students argue, and it is time to start giving back. Giving back to our planet and each other. The world is more connected than ever before and it is only going to become increasingly more intertwined and complicated. School of the Earth is about the necessity of connection, not only from human to human but between nature and people as well. The new vision for the Gallatin School is complete with visionary images and a model created to educate students and the public that not only is it possible for humans to exist while giving back, but that we can help make the planet a better, healthier place for the future as well.





Terreform ONE in Abitare: Cricket Shelter Insect Farm Project

Silvia Botti, Fabrizio Gallanti. "Editorial," and "Nuovi ibridi/ New Hybrids," Abitare,  No. 567, pp. 17, 38-47 Sept. 2017.


Global Wellness Institute with Mitchell Joachim

The Future of Wellness in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Industry Roundtable and Forum at Steelcase NY.

EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology with Terreform ONE

Terreform ONE Cricket Shelter and Farm at the 10-day, world-scale biennial design festival. In partnership with the United Nations, EDIT will celebrate the intersection of design, innovation, and technology in shaping our future for the better. Visitors will be dazzled by a collection of pavilions that draw on four major themes: Shelter, Nourish, Care and Educate. Guest-curated by contemporary leaders, the exhibitions will demonstrate the most inspiring design, innovation, and technology solutions to real-world problems.


The School of The New York Times with Terreform ONE, Mitchell Joachim

Writing The Subway: Mobility and Technology in New York.
Faculty: Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Metro reporter The New York Times, 
Mitchell Joachim, Maria Aiolova and Vivian Kuan, Urban Designers, Terreform ONE

Identify challenges in urban design, focusing on transportation and mobility issues, and explore the concept of “urbaneering” as you imagine the future of cities.



Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near Future at New Lab, Terreform ONE

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017

Imminent Commons: The Debates Part I

Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Beatriz Colomina, David Benjamin, Jesse Le Cavelier, Keller Easterling, Laura Kurgan, Maider Llaguno, Mark Wigley, Martino Stierli, Mitchell Joachim and more.

Within the scope of the Seoul Biennale of architecture and urbanism 2017, co-directed by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Hyungmin Pai, Actar publishers and urbanNext are going to promote the publication "Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near Future”, three months before the international conferences and exhibitions. 

Seoul Biennale proposes a set of basic commons—an evolving network of agencies, resources, and technologies—as the critical issue in the move towards a sustainable and just urbanism. As an alternative to the modern city, the Seoul Biennale proposes 9 commons—four resources of air, water, energy, and earth, and five commonalities of connecting, making, moving, recycling, sensing—as the foundation of a new urban cosmopolitan. The Seoul Biennale presents these intertwined commons as technologies, practices, and spaces that traverse institutional and market mechanisms. 

Mitchell Joachim and Christian Hubert. "The End of Waste? Towards a Socio-Ecological Commons," Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near FutureAlejandro Zaera-Polo and Hyungmin Pai (eds.), Actar, 2017, pp. 318 - 333.

Wednesday, June 28th, 6:30-8:30 PM @ New Lab Event Space

Join Terreform ONE and urbanNext for the launch of the book “Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near Future” in NY. There will be a roundtable discussion led by Alejandro Zaera-Polo, with speakers such as Mitchell Joachim, Maider Llaguno and Keller Easterling. The roundtable discussion will be followed by Q+A and a reception. 
Please RSVP to press@actar-d.com.