The Millennial Project 2.0

Organic/Ferro-cement Complex

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At once the most challenging yet simplest construction method as well as the most novel approach to design, the Organic/Ferro-cement Complex is an expression of one of the original TMP's key ideals for Aquarius. Marshal Savage intended that Aquarius colonies should cultivate a materially light culture, based on the simple fact that people who were overly attached to a lot of personal property would have a hard time ever moving to space since there would simply be no practical way to bring a lot of possessions with one out there. And yet Aquarius is also supposed to cultivate a compellingly high standard of living in order that the sea become an attractive place for mainland people to move to. This ultimately means redefining the standard of living in such a way that comfort and pleasure is less keyed to the possession of a lot of junk. One notion Savage had for doing that was to factor comfort and elegance into the physical structure of Aquarius colonies through a form of architecture that integrated most furnishings and fixtures. One might have a home with all the comfort, convenience, and beauty of king's palace only there's no loose furniture. Everything is built-into the structure itself. So this high luxury isn't keyed to the possessions of anything. It's a built-in aspect of the environment.

The one form of architecture that best approaches such an ideal is that based on a little-known design discipline called Free-Form Organic. Long the province of a very small, eccentric, and fearless community of designers, this most exotic style of architectural design is generally considered to have been an outgrowth of the Art Nouveau movement which then followed a parallel path to Modernism in terms of ideals but with a deliberate abandonment of the rectilinear form, favoring instead non-Euclidean forms as representative of natural forces, processes, and order. Buildings in the style are based on flowing curvilinear shell structures which are usually ergonomically designed inside-out. In other words, the concave interior spaces and their volumetric arrangement tend to supersede the external form in terms of design significance, sometimes being engineered to suit the functional physical characteristics of the human body in the manner akin to fighter aircraft cockpits and sports equipment with every space specialized in function. The exterior is often an afterthought -sometimes resulting in grotesque or bizarre forms that are best disguised by being elaborated into some largely independent artistic sculptural forms or a kind of landscape that can be made naturalistic and covered in earth in part or whole.

In this style of design Savage found not only a way to realize the ideals of a low-clutter culture but also an expression of the organismic nature of his vision of community and a similar marine organism analogy that complimented the idea of using electrolytic sea accretion as a construction method -as marine microorganisms do. But he had great difficulty reconciling this form of design to his plan for a rigidly geometric cellular macro-structure for the Aquarius colony. He wrote of Aquarius' organic interior design while the outside was still left starkly geometric -an aesthetic non-sequitur that would probably have never been tolerable by its inhabitants in real life. And it didn't help matters that the original TMP lacked any good example illustrations of organic architecture -perhaps because Savage had only come late to the notion of using it and had not found any stock media to support it or an artist sophisticated enough to properly illustrate it. There's good reason why this style of design has been the province of a very small community for so long. It quite simply takes an imagination that can visualize in four dimensions and then render such on paper! Most designers in the field still work with modeling clay even in this age of computers because the elaborate non-Euclidean forms tax the capabilities of the best computer modeling software and push finite element structural analysis into the realm of supercomputing.

Those few people familiar with the concept of organic architecture from other sources have readily understood Savage's rationale, though we now understand that in order to use this as a form of interior design a settlement structure is largely compelled to use a complimentary organic exterior as well, the naturalistic landscape approach the most practical in terms of making the most of the exterior surface of a marine structure usable as public garden space. From a symbolic standpoint, this is the one form of architecture that best expresses Aquarian cultural ideals, almost universally symbolizes the future, anticipates the organic nature of engineering in a future Diamond Age, and offers the most compelling novelty. There is no question that any marine settlement employing this form of design on a large scale is going to enjoy immediate global attention. But it's also the single-most challenging form of architecture to employ, especially for a community that must evolve and grow continually over time. Because as organismic as such structures are in appearance, we currently have only a single building technology capable of producing such structures; free-form mesh-reinforced ferro-cement. This is an old, powerful, and infinitely versatile building technology but one which is most definitely NOT organismic in its ability to adapt and evolve. It has no demountability and relies very heavily on hand labor. Producing totally monolithic structures, the only way to change and expand structures built with this technique is to employ a kind of surgical demolition followed by a blending of new structure and material into old. This is very rarely done with such structures and no standardized techniques for it currently exist -or for that matter any long-term engineering studies on its performance. Old and new concrete are chemically different and cracking or de-lamination where new concrete is applied to old is a common problem. Owing to the great difficulty in structural engineering of non-Euclidean structures in the past and the tendency of old buildings of the style to be razed rather than renovated, few large organic buildings exist anywhere in the world and so the use of surgical demolition on a large scale is unknown territory. This means that when one builds sizable structures using this design approach one is compelled to use over-heavy structure to compensate for unknown engineering factors and to avoid structural modification as much as possible by anticipating through design future needs very long-term. Since effective design using this technique is very talent-dependent, a high labor overhead can be incurred for this talent.

But even with an effective method for surgical demolition and reconstruction developed, ultimately this building method may be limited to structures no more than a handful of stories high without resorting to a hybrid structure. This will most certainly be the case for this style of design to be employed past an intermediate stage of development, hence the description of that form as one of the final Aquarius colony types. The only likely solution to this limitation is the development of new homogeneously reinforced recyclable masonry materials capable of much larger load capacities and much easier and safer surgical demolition and reconstruction. One such possibility will be discussed later in the article on SeaFoam; a nanofiber reinforced variable density foamed geopolymer which may be developed as a result of current trends in masonry materials development.

Despite its limitations, the powerfully compelling symbolic nature and sensual beauty of the organic aesthetic along with its strong analogy to Diamond Age architecture is very likely to encourage some groups of people to attempt to employ it for a Seed settlement. This would be done using the same organic shell structures in both a static float and habitable structure role, producing what would ultimately be a very naturalistic-looking artificial island interspersed with walking paths, ponds, and streams along with an assortment of portals and other structures emerging from faux-stone outcroppings and what seems like the 'ground' itself. Unlike the more usual Chinese Mansion configuration, the Organic Seed settlement is likely to mimic in miniature the rough configuration of some full scale Aquarius colonies, using a central hill form with ridges radiating out to enclose lagoons, marinas, and public garden valleys and with a possibility for some habitable structures to be completely underwater. Each of these valley or lagoon zones may assume the aspect of an individual neighborhood in the overall community and may be specialized in roles such as commercial, community, and residential. Tunnels relying on artificial and heliostat-supplied light would provide interior avenues through the core of radiating ridges, backing-up the exterior walkways and allowing for small light electric/human powered service/utility vehicles to move quickly between the major zones of the settlement and the 'back' entrances of residences. Public lounges based on 'landscape foam' (sculpted fabric covered foam creating a seating/lounging landscape) may be a popular feature of the settlement, with many variants in form, lighting, and built-in entertainment explored.

Industrial facilities will be somewhat difficult to implement with this form of architecture owing to incompatibility between industrial equipment and curvilinear work spaces. Unnecessarily large structures may be needed to accommodate relatively simple machinery. Many industrial activities may thus be relegated to separate nearby platforms. However, the settlement would be ideally suited to tourism applications as a primary industry and large portions of the structure could be dedicated to this from an early stage -ideally with a strategy of using the same type of residential 'cottage' for tourist accommodations as is used for general residence in order to create some flexibility in use for both roles. Dedicated hotel space would be very difficult to repurpose based on this form of design.

The contrast between the organic and non-organic aesthetics can be dramatic when an environment of such scale is organic. This will likely impact inhabitants preferences in artifact design and may ultimately strongly impact the culture that evolves in the community. Much like its Organica land-based counterpart among the Eco-Community Design Concepts, a very distinct and somewhat introverted local culture is likely develop in the Organic Seed settlement. This may amplify the community's desire for migration to the equator but, at the same time, the difficulty in working with this form of construction will make that process slower and more difficult than with other settlement types. Perhaps this will serve as an incentive for acceleration in the development of new masonry materials and other technology that will make this form of architecture easier to use.

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Phases Edit

Phases Foundation Aquarius Bifrost Asgard Avalon Elysium Solaria Galactia
Cultural Evolution Transhumanism  •  Economics, Justice, and Government  •  Key Disruptive Technologies
Life In Aquarius
Seed Settlement Design Utilihab ComplexResort Prefab ComplexContainer Mod ComplexCommercial Frame ComplexCommercial Concrete ComplexOrganic/Ferro-cement Complex
Intermediate Stages
Colony Design Concepts Tectonic ColonyOrganic Hybrid ColonySea Foam ColonySubmarine Habitats
Mariculture and Farming
Polyspecies MaricultureFree-Range Fish FarmingAlgeacultureTerra PretaCold-Bed AgricultureHydroponicsSmall Space Animal Husbandry
Aquarian Transportation
Solar FerrySolar Wingsail CruiserEcoCruiserRelay ArchipelagoWingshipEcoJetAquarian AirshipPersonal Rapid TransitPersonal Packet TransitAquarian SE DownstationCircum-Equatorial Transit Network
Aquarius Supporting Technologies
OTECPneumatically Stabilized PlatformsSeaFoamAquarian Digital InfrastructureVersaBotCold Water Radiant CoolingLarge Area Cast Acrylic StructuresTidal/Wave/Current SystemsAlgae-Based Biofuel SystemsVanadium Redox SystemsHydride Storage SystemsNext-Generation Hydrogen StorageAlternative Hydrolizer SystemsSupercritical Water OxidationPlasma Waste Conversion

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