arieThe magic of our reality is not that absolutely anything is possible – but that there is a great deal of untapped potential that already exists. The developments in living technology suggest that we will evolve solutions using the transformational properties of natural systems. Living technologies build upon traditional skills working in combination with new scientific knowledge. Streamline human development with biospherical processes so that our lifestyles are more sustainable, less environmentally disruptive and ultimately means that our cities are better places to live.

Arie Voorburg, is a senior consultant and lecturer, studied system ecology, biophysics and (comparative) philosophy and is fascinated by the phenomenon of ‘city’ in all its facets, glory and dark side. Arie has been active for 20 years involved in the field of ecology, biodiversity, sustainable development and complex urban issues. Arie is founder of the Socio Ecological Urbanism as an integrated framework for a sustainable urban environment. Arie gives international master classes, lectures, readings, speaking at conferences (eg Speakers Academy) and publish as senior consultant on integrated urban complex adaptive systems.

As the fastness of modern life in cities creates the definite standards for vital space, one of the most important criteria of urban quality is its functionality and the ability to anticipate and prepare for changes and potential threats. Never before have so many people been exposed to such a hyper scale of impending ecologic and resources dilemmas. The capacity for catastrophic geo-political systems failure are the subjects of growing international awareness.

It all comes down to resilience. Whereas natural ecosystems adapt to comfortably accommodate the ecological changes brought about by the planet’s essential operating mechanisms, our socioal-technical systems are, on the whole, created either on the assumption that such events will not occur or that when they do we can divert the impacts.

The concept of bionic cities is an urban design, socio systems and technologies engaged in symbiotic relationships reconceptualised as interconnected urban ecosystems. By embracing this envirocentric agenda it opens the door to new paradigms for restorative urban programs through applying equal weight to socio-cultural, ecological and technical processes. The principle of bionics relates to structures and processes imitating nature’s mode of organization, optimization and adaptation. By doing this the bionic city concept respects the earth’s abundance enabling a recognition that humans are not divorced from natural systems. Sensitive to their surroundings, fused to form a complex adaptive system in sync with the Earth’s natural processes. The build environment within the software of the city -its culture, society and economy- convergence technologies and connect with natural systems.

In an era of rapid scientific and technological advancement, the radical ideas of yesteryear are becoming the reality of the present. Adaptive architecture, biomimetics, synthetic biology and living technologies are challenging and driving new aesthetics, systems and relationships within the built environment.

In the context of new technologies and new urban challenges, there is a great opportunity to create new living, breathing design ecosystems. These design ecosystems will link complex flows of people, resources, data, and energy. They will involve work on multiple scales simultaneously. They will anticipate and welcome rapid change. Within these new design ecosystems, architects, ecologists, biologists and technologists will have to embrace design with uncertainty, design with shifting and unknowable forces, and design without complete control.