Mitchell Joachim (MAUD ’02) featured in Dwell Magazine, the Now 99 issue

Mitchell Joachim, founder of Terreform ONE, was featured in the May issue of Dwell Magazine for the Now 99– Today’s Design Landscape: Ideas, People, Products & Plans. An interview with Diana Budds explores Joachim’s designs for biologically based architecture as the future of housing. The published interview follows.
DB: What are the most pressing issues in housing today?
MJ: Green technology has to be more affordable. We have to find systems that will leapfrog previous ones and are actually cheaper at the point of purchase. Moreover, we have to accept that we can’t change the American value system. Everyone wants to own property and have a sovereign or autonomous lifestyle. We have to react by innovating.
DB: Whose responsibility is it to do so?
MJ: I’d put the burden on the designers. We shouldn’t rely on politicians or bankers or developers. We should be educating designers in policy, economics, and building methods as well as ways to improve space, materials, and the science of construction.
DB: What is your vision for the house of the future?
MJ: Houses have to get smarter. You should know where your power is going and how you’re using it. In general, houses don’t pull information and relay it in a way that is easily understood. All citizens should have access to that type of information.
DB: Your nonprofit Terreform ONE is known for its radical design propositions. What are you working on now?
MJ: With the In Vitro Meat Habitat, we’re experimenting with lab-created artificial tissue to construct truly organic, living architecture. When architects talk about “organic” architecture, it usually just mimics organic systems or is organic on an aesthetic or phenomenological level. We’re working with biological systems such as fungi, grafted plants, and organisms that can clean up polluted soils to solve design problems. Biotechnology is one of the next steps. It is undiscovered territory. The basic building blocks of today’s structures are made by machines. What if structures could be biofabricated from cells, nature’s first building blocks? I call it “form follows biology.”
DB: Will people eventually live in homes made from tissue?
MJ: I think it’s possible. There’s always the Buckminster Fuller routine: the promissory note that living in some kind of tetrahedral shape will save the world. To me, that’s highly deterministic. There’s never going to be a one-off solution. However, you do need an extreme version so that you can change the norm.
Mitchell Joachim, PhD, Assoc. AIA, is a leader in ecological design, architecture and urbanism. He is a Partner at Planetary ONE and founding Co-President of Terreform ONE. Mitchell is an Associate Professor at NYU and EGS in Switzerland. Previously he was the Frank Gehry Chair at University of Toronto and faculty at Pratt, Columbia, Syracuse, Washington, and Parsons. He was an architect at Gehry Partners, and Pei Cobb Freed. He earned a Ph.D. at MIT, MAUD at Harvard University, MArch at Columbia University.