This cell-shaped building for the institute for Nanobiomedical Technology & Membrane Biology in Chengdu, China, is an unusual croos-disciplinary collaboration between MIT bioengineer Shuguang Zhang, architecture major Sloan Kulper and software engineer Audrey Roy.

The $12m facility will house 170.000 sq ft of laboratory and research spaces.

"Nature has built this kind of thing for billions of years, and finally humans caught on," said Dr. Zhang, who is founding adviser to the Institute for Nanobiomedical Technology and Membrane Biology in Chengdu.


To many who do not share his enthusiasm and find it far to literal for architecture. But to Dr. Zhang, standard buildings, with their straight lines and conventional boxy shapes, are "boring," and the more imaginative works like those of Antoni Gaudi and Frank Gehry resonate. "People will turn their head regardless," he said, whether "they like it or hate it," and children will be inspired to learn biology.

He said he doubted that people would actually hate the building. "It's biology," he said. "How many people hate trees? How many people hate seashells and mushrooms?

"When the Eiffel Tower was built," Dr. Zhang added, "most of the people in Paris hated it. Now it has become a symbol of Paris."

Via NYTimes. Related: Vertical Marketplace | Ceci n'est pas une Montagne | Park Buildings | Who wants to drive a Fish? | Nanoflowers. cellmates

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  • Greetings and Salutations. Congratulations on your first attempt. I never imagined 12 million dollars could build such a masterpiece .Of course China does not have a monopoly non aesthetic architecture, It took America a long time, and the Italians have the tower of Pizza..if that were natural they should let it fall. (joke) You do not have to impress the Yankees and their running lackey dogs. A mother will always love its child. and this is a labor of love..I salute you. I have a solution..Put a heavy fortification around it..a few guards around it..a few men and women dressed with white laboratory coats going in and out with radiation monitors (you can hiresstudents cheap for this)..when the American and Russian Satellites fly over they wiill swear it is a secret weapon! Then the Americans and Russians will talk with more respect! Now that is what I call dual use and functional.. Good Luck and Prosperity

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  • Note: I had some doubts but categorized this in 'nature becomes culture'. In this project, images of nature are used as an inspiration to create a building, which in the end remains an illustration of something else (cell structures). The functioning isn't copied, only the aesthetics. This makes this building sort of a super version of the well known fake nature flower dress.

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