The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Associate Professor Exhibits Bio-engineering Project at The Centre Pompidou

28 March 2022

Claudia Pasquero’s project, ‘GAN-Physarum: La dérive numérique’, employs the cognitive abilities of living slime mould to help develop more adaptable, biologically driven city planning tools.

Image: ecoLogicStudio_GAN-Physarum, la dérive numérique AI video and biopainting + DeepGreen, Urbansphere video ©NAARO

EcoLogicStudio, led by founders Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, is taking part in the “Réseaux-Mondes” (Worlds of Networks) exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. 

Their project, ‘GAN-Physarum: La dérive numérique’, harnesses cultivated slime moulds’ ability to learn from their surroundings to aid in more ecologically resilient city planning.

Claudia and Marco developed a laboratory test which simulates different areas of green density in a 10km² area, demonstrating how the slime mould first spreads out across the whole area, then focuses on optimum routes between food sources. The video and accompanying bio-painting that Claudia and Marco produced for the Pompidou exhibition shows how, in these more efficient routes, the organism forms thicker networks to derive optimum benefit. 

Project description

A GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) is an algorithmic architecture that creates new generative models using deep learning methods. This powerful form of Artificial Intelligence has been trained by ecoLogicStudio’s bio-computational design team to “behave” like a Physarum Polycephalum, a single celled Slime Mould. 

The trained GAN-Physarum is then sent on a computational dérive on the streets of Paris. In an AI generated video titled ‘GAN-Physarum: La dérive numérique’, it shows us how to decode and reinterpret the patterns of contemporary Paris’ urban fabric. We witness a transition from the original morphological order to an emergent distributed network of path systems. It is the blue-green, wet and living infrastructure of the city of the next millennium. 

The video is accompanied by the corresponding bio-painting, of 1x0.8 m in size, where a living Physarum Polycephalum stretches its networked body to feed on a grid of nutrients, distributed on the canvas to accurately map the Parisian current biotic resources. The resulting traces are the embodiment of the Slime Mould’s cognitive system and, perhaps, a non-human insight into Paris’ very own evolving biotechnological brain.

Claudia teaches Research Cluster 16 on The Bartlett's Urban Design MArch with Filippo Nasetti, and is Director of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab at The Bartlett. Her studio co-founder, Marco Poletto, has also taught on The Bartlett's Urban Design programme.

The exhibition is on display at the Centre Pompidou until 25 April 2022.

More information

Image: 'GAN-Physarum: La Dérive Numérique' AI video and biopainting, and 'DeepGreen', Urbansphere video, by EcoLogicStudio,  © NAARO