Stratospheric Sky Garden with Proto Life

Alessia Andreotti
September 27th 2015

A sky garden of cacti and artificial life forms floating a hundred thousand feet above the Earth's surface. Rachel Armstrong, Experimental Architecture professor and Next Nature Network ambassador, created the first stratospheric sky garden and platform for the cultivation of proto life.

For this project, named Hanging Gardens of Medusa, Rachel Armstrong - in collaboration with Nebula Sciences - has been inspired by the short story Meeting with Medusa by sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke. The novel, set in Jupiter's atmosphere, poses questions about building infrastructures that allow humans to live outside of their home planet for extended periods of time.

Armstrong' s stratospheric plants consist of two gardens sustained by artificial soil: the Falcon is the higher tier and contains biological organisms and the Medusa is the lower tier and proposes an environment for alternative future life forms that involve self-assembling chemistries.

On the 15th of August the first flight has been tested. The gardens traveled by helium balloon into the atmosphere, where they try to hit conditions similar to a Martian environment: extreme temperature, pressure and different bands of UV radiation. Then, they took a second flight on the 29th August to determine and challenge the ability of different kinds of life forms to survive in hostile environments, both in outer space and in the harsh conditions on Earth. The various cacti were able to withstand the extreme conditions of the high altitude at 85,000ft, including a vigorous jet stream, while the artificial life forms with their super 'soft' and distributed self-organising programme were completely destroyed by the process.

The concept of the Hanging Gardens of Medusa aims to promote further thought and conversation on the development of strategies to increase human capacity to survive in extreme environments, as well as in new spaces and worlds. Is it time to prepare ourselves for the unfavorable conditions on Earth and the hostile terrains of space?

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Source: Design Curial

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Lisa Mandemaker: Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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