The Architecture of Humeurs
New modes of architectural structuring and transaction
David Edwards + Valérie Abrial, May 3, 2010
Architecture des Humeurs/Architecture of humors_Matthieu Kavyrchine
Architecture des Humeurs/Architecture of humors_Matthieu Kavyrchine
D.E.: Can you describe the software you present in the exhibition Une architecture de humeurs? What is its origin, and what is its story? What do you call it? How does it work? What are its perspectives for the future?

F.J.: It’s a numerical calculus software program whose humble beginnings go back more than 20 years. It has essentially remained in the academic sphere, although it is has often been used in scientific and industrial applications. For this reason, it’s never needed an attractive commercial acronym, and given its age, it’s now too late to give it an official name. Like any software, be it academic or commercial, its history is poorly documented, and the program is full of bugs. But it continues to aspire to perfection.

D.E.: What does this software bring to the domain of housing, and how can it change more traditional ways of imagining it?

F.J.: Beyond this particular software program, I think we are on the cusp of a veritable revolution with respect to the forms used in architecture. This has been brought on by the massive use of 3-D modelling. Only 10 years ago, conceptual software and calculation software – not to mention the new materials now available – would have been inconceivable. The variety of forms that are now possible is infinite. It remains to be seen how this avant-garde brand of architecture will make inroads in traditional types of housing.

Architecture des Humeurs/Process d'aggregation morphologiques_R&Sie(n) & Le Laboratoire
Architecture des Humeurs/Process d'aggregation morphologiques_R&Sie(n) & Le Laboratoire
D.E.: Do you believe that a mathematical algorithm could one day actually deduce forms of housing from our biometric data? What are the mathematical or computing- related obstacles that must be overcome in order for this to be possible?

I don’t like the term ‘biometry’. It’s reminiscent of a police-state society. The theme of this exhibition is more closely related to the harnessing of biological data via microchips or techniques of medical imagery. All of this already exists in laboratories and could be put into practice. The first application of these tools, of course, is in medical diagnosis, but if they could also be used to conceive the homes of our wildest dreams, why not?

D.E.: What is your overall assessment of this experiment? What has it brought to you as a researcher?

F.J.: Scientists are often criticized for staying cloistered in their ivory tower, and this criticism is sometimes justified. As for me, I enjoy participating in improbable, unlikely experiments, and this is one such kind. In the strictest sense, our work does not have any scientific repercussions, but it has served to open up our discipline to society. I’m pleased to be able to show visitors, some of whom were traumatized by the maths lessons of their school days, that these damned equations can also be used in an artistic project, and not only to select the best students or conceive questionable financial products. From a more personal point of view, I’ve discovered an environment previously unfamiliar to me and which functions in a way that is not all that different from that of my own scientific background: both long-term and immediate results are necessary. I am also extremely eager to see at last the three-dimensional figures of forms which, until now, I’ve only been able to observe on a screen.

Architecture des Humeurs/Machine detail_R&Sie(n) & Le laboratoire
Architecture des Humeurs/Machine detail_R&Sie(n) & Le laboratoire

David Edwards: You are one of the world leaders in the fi eld of transdermal drug and vaccine delivery. But your background is actually not in medicine or biomedical engineering at all. How is it that an aeronautical engineer ends up pursuing such a career so successfully?

M.K.: I suppose, above all, I have always tried to work on things that interest me. I believe that in research this is paramount. And yes, by fi rst inspection, it does seem like a leap between fields. However, when I was finishing my PhD, I spotted the opportunity to apply my training in rockets to machines to keep people alive (as opposed to many rockets, which are killing machines), called the Gene Gun, which I helped develop in Oxford. Then as I was developing the Gene Gun, I became fascinated by the biology of the skin and its immunology – and saw the real challenge in understanding how it works, and using this knowledge to make vaccines work better with improved devices. This led me to the Nanopatch.

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