Author : Daphnie Costi

University : The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Status : MArch, 2014

Advisors : Marcos Cruz, Marjan Colletti, Richard Beckett

Title : Tubascular – Prosthetic Aesthetics | Emergence of a New Body

Tubascular – Prosthetic Aesthetics is a research project looking into the expressive possibilities of the body as a site for installation. The research was inspired by the nineteenth-century physicist and philosopher Herman Ludwig Helmholtz and his research on human perception.

Helmholtz wrote ‘A human being is like a rubber ball wrapped in an extremely delicate membrane. Different areas of the ball’s surface elicit different senses. Our image of the world is based on the multi-various stimuli that are perceived on the membrane and transmitted to the ball’s nucleus, the brainEverything is an event on the skin’.

The project is based on the idea of body transformation and the associated effects on the spatial experience. Tubascular is a 3 dimensional prosthetic installation, which creates a scaffold following the landscape of the body. The installation is wearable and serves to extend the interior vascular system to an added exterior one. The additional vascularity, externalises a system that is very delicate and vital in the human body. It enhances the skin by a specialised liquid flowing in the tubes injecting it to the internal arteries. The liquid causes a doping transformation. The skin becomes younger, healthier and more sensitive to stimulus, thus enhancing bodily experiences. The project challenges the boundaries of the body, creating a new interface between the self and the world, by re-defining the body schema.

The design process began with the assumption that the body is the locus of perception, thought and consciousness, and with the question of how different ideas of the body give rise to different ways of relating the body to architecture. The hypothesis of the project is that the body as a living system and the morphological principles of architecture are moving towards a new form of convergence.

‘While the body, invaded and dilated by technology becomes architecture, architecture in turn looks to the body not as a model of order and formal measurement but as a model of sensitivity, flexibility, intelligence and communicative capacity. Whereas the body designs its own spatial expansion, architecture designs its corporeal future.. New convergence between body and architecture – Post – Organic’

Maria Luisa Palumbo, New Wombs: Electronic Bodies and Architectural Disorders


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Daphnie Costi_ In my approach to architecture I use my implicit love and passion for the arts and science as an opportunity to experiment, evolve and challenge personal boundaries and design ideas. The project brings together research and methodologies from subjects that have fascinated me from a young age; Biology, Neuroscience, Anatomy, Psychology, Phenomenology and Culture – mostly centred around the Human Factor. The design approach is experimental with an atmospheric aesthetic sensibility; stimulating to the eye and provides a multi-sensory spatial experience. The most important aspect of this project is how the body is used as a flexible material on which we can act: a transformable, improvable and augmentable entity. Architecture is designed as an extension of the body schema.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
DC_ Architecture to me is not merely based on textbook knowledge; ideas and concepts can arrive from anywhere and the world around us is the trigger for this. Travelling, I believe, is extremely influential and inspiring. Walking around a new city, observing; the people, the sounds, the smells and the beauty of the city itself awaken all your senses. This has lead to my interest in photography; I travel regularly to photograph cities with great architectural heritage. Cities I have travelled to most recently include Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong, which have been unforgettable experiences.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
DC_ Think outside the box. Break boundaries, innovate and don’t be afraid to be different. Designing is a very intuitive process and the most important thing I have learned at the Bartlett School of Architecture is to trust my instincts and always push ideas as far as possible. Drawing, I believe is a skill that everyone can acquire through practice. But design sensibility is cultivated just as any other artistic quality.

S//A : Describe your dream project
DC_ My dream project would actually be to work in collaboration with other talented innovative individuals from different specialized fields and backgrounds, and use new techniques and technologies to experiment with architectural design and form. In that way we can bring knowledge and expertise to the table that makes the research stronger as a collective and also learn from each other. A project where we are involved with hands on design, creating innovative 1:1 models to test materials and forms. My dream project would probably be for a research lab rather than an architectural practice.