“nCertainties” Bachelor Studio Project
RMIT University, 2012
Collaborator: Mark-Henri Decrausaz
Supervisors: Francois Roche & Gwyllim Jahn

In an environment incongruent to facilitated human habitation, questions can be raised about the functionality of living in the remoteness of the Australian outback. How would man navigate this hostile terrain? How would research be conducted in a landscape filled with potential hazards?

This scenario aims to create an edifice providing protection from the antagonistic and often perilous Australian wilderness. The separation between structure in the tree canopy and the forest floor provides a safe platform for human use. Spider silk is used to make a habitable spaces and acts like a skin graft to the flora of the rainforest, eliminating the risk of rejection.

Aided by a two tier mechanism, humans begin to lightly shape the environment to their purposes. By use of pheromones, the harvester class robot attracts spiders to ideal sites around the rainforest. Moving in a cyclic manner it begins to milk silk from the spiders it comes across. When its spindles are full the harvester moves directly toward the nearest trees and climbs the trunk. Upon reaching the crown it anchors itself and the weaver class robots begin their work. Orbiting the trees, gingerly sowing between the shyness of the crowns, the weavers form a slowly emerging network. More and more this slow but deliberate process creates the beginnings of a research station. When the silk stock in depleted the weavers retire and the harvester descends to once again recommence its gathering of silk.

Being of endogenous nature, the silk structure itself is not immune to the environmental factors of the milieu. Wind and the movement of the trees tear the silk, sun and rain decay the web as the necrosis of the construction provides a higher frequency of voyeuristic moments for observation. Yet equally the membrane becomes more dangerous to navigate as its porosity increases. How does this affect the lives of the researchers? Do they constantly migrate to avoid the dangers of their deteriorating home?