The Bacterial Clients of Modern Architecture
Beatriz Colomina, Mark Wigley

The human is an unstable idea; simultaneously an all-powerful creature – capable of transforming the whole ecology of the planet – yet extremely fragile, a murky ghost. Contemporary research into our microbiome portrays the human itself as a mobile ecology constructed by the endless flux of interactions between thousands of different species of bacteria – some of which are millions of years old and others joined us just a few months ago. This challenges conventional understandings of architecture. What does it mean to house the human when we no longer think that the human organism is securely contained within its skin? What is the role of architecture when the humans occupying it are understood to be suspended in clouds of bacteria shared, generated and mobilized by other macro-organisms (pets, plants, insects…) and the building itself; when the human is not a clearly defined organism or in any sense independent; when the architectural client is a massive set of ever-changing trans-species alliances that make the apparent complexity of even the largest of cities seem quaintly uncomplicated. What kind of care do architects offer if we think of ourselves as alliances between bacteria within the apparent limits of the body and throughout the spaces we occupy? What faces 21st century architects in comparison to 20th century architects?

Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Healthcare architecture, Form and Function, Healing architecture, Building ventilation, Cleansing architecture, Healing environment.

Issue 62
Year 2020
Pages 6-17

PDF (English)