Author : Jaime Rivera

University : Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Status : MArch2, 2015

Advisor : Kathy Velikov

Title : Synthetic Machines

This novel infrastructure acts as a catalyst for reinvigorating a network of obsolete mines. Open pit mines, among other typological models of this class, formerly generated economic stability for workers and the cities which operated around them. The Synthetic Machines project is situated in Michigan at the Empire Mine, but it is the testing ground for new design possibilities at a global scale.

Once a mine has been exhausted by the human it follows in the traditional model of a wasteland or unoccupiable land mass. As the Empire Mine closes its iron ore chapter, Synthetic Machines intercepts the mine in its entropic state to germinate it with new organisms. The environment of the mine is a harsh one, leaving humans to do what is usually done with things seen to no longer be of use, and discard them. This limited view provided the lens by which this project found an adaptive response, a microscopic lens, where careful investigation found the kinds of organisms which thrive in such ruination. Currently, climatic changes in our environment have cultivated micro-organisms that have found ways of surviving in non-traditional ecosystems. These organisms, ‘extremophiles’, have adapted to their extreme environments and give us a glimpse of future modes of living.

The Synthetic Machines construct utilizes biomining processes and reimagines current biomining technology into innovative machines of cultivation. The project is specked with synthetic machines, each containing organisms thriving in rich iron content. The machines are speculative designs of hyperobjects, as they relate to micro-architectural embodiments of the biomining process. These test subjects allow us to expand on constructed landscapes of experience, process and interplanetary thought.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Jaime Rivera_ This project is heavily influenced by thoughts on hyperobjects by Timothy Morton and registers within this mode of ecological awareness/thinking.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
JR_ Graphic design and 3D animation

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
JR_ The most important thing I learned in architecture school is not to take yourself too seriously. Being able to communicate ideas that are interesting to you, when at times they may be polarizing, requires an understanding of other’s thoughts and willingness to have a multidisciplinary conversation.

S//A : Describe your dream project
JR_ My dream project would situate itself within post digital environments where the speculation on architecture’s role could establish a dialogue between the collective and future ecologies.