Crispr - Locus

Dario Pedrabissi, Christian Pongratz, Maria R. Perbellini, Dustin White

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


By bringing together stone and nature in a lively, dynamic narration to inscribe a public open room, the installation “CRISPR" turns spatial resonances into a stage for social encounters, an emotional observation point of the beauty and power of water, still hidden by walls and the extensive complex of buildings. It is a sensorial immersion into exaptation as a reflection on the passing of time and the uniqueness of an inspiring place that went through a history of transformations: the Arsenale, one of the landmarks of Venice.
“CRISPR" traits are revealed by its rules and at times latent principles which, if written computationally, are generating non-linear geometries, interchangeable as well as non-adaptive functions and relationships.

Based on the observation of natural ecosystems with semi-open boundaries and with reference to the flow of information and resources down to the scale of cells and tissues, the design engenders an inscription of aspects of the cellular symbiotic environment into geometric and material layers (Holland J., 2012).
Gould and Vrba (1982) discuss in their research on evolutionary morphology the idea that certain features of organisms are non-adapted, though they still are available for useful cooptation in descendants towards specific roles. Historically adaptations refer to forms and functions that have been developed via natural selection over time and perform according to expected roles, a certain fitness, in the environment. Yet there is a known understanding of features, that pose challenges to be labeled as adaptations, since those were not built by selection over time to function in a specific dedicated role. On the one hand, the reading and observation of their performance is referred to as effects. On the other, forms or elements itself, that entail a certain fitness to the environment in their current role, but are not designed for it, they termed exaptations, and only fit by reason of their form (ex aptus). One example for exaptation provided from the field of genetics, is the vast amount of repetitive DNA available in organisms, which are not serving any function, and cannot be explained by adaptation alone. Gould and Vrba term those copies as non-apted and available for cooptation at a later stage. It is argued that is this redundant genetic material that builds the flexibility needed for evolutionary changes.
Similar as a non-aptive pool is an analog for an archive of mutation, the generation of an abundance of repetitive and differentiated, non-aptive and adaptive geometries provides the raw material for variability in the design application across surfaces, from floor, wall to ceiling to portals, objects and so forth.
In this way, many design exaptations originate randomly with respect to their effects.
Among those are boundary lines and voids that either play with color, texture, recess, relief and incision on surfaces or enable three-dimensional niches, offering the experience of a new whole material environment, a scenographic atmosphere, a targeted locus which integrates natural stone into a sequence of insertions in a mutating sensorial experience landscape.

Holland J., (2012). Signals and Boundaries, Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems, MIT Press.

Gould J., Vrba E., (1982). Exaptation, A Missing Term in the Science of Form, Paleobiology, Vol. 8, No. 1
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVenice
PublisherGiardini della Biennale
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2021
EventVenice Biennale - Architecture - 2021: HOW WILL WE LIVE TOGETHER? - Arsenale, Venice, Italy
Duration: 22 May 202121 Nov 2021


  • Architectural Design
  • installation
  • resilient communities
  • digital design
  • computational design
  • Biennale
  • public space


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