The Bartlett School of Architecture


Ram Shergill

Sympoietic Alliance by Ram Shergill



The Critical Posthuman Carapace: Constructing Exoskeletal Hybrid Living Systems (EHLS)

First and second supervisors


In the twenty-first century consequences of anthropogenic climate change are having a substantial impact on the human anatomy, threatening human survival, leaving the human body obsolete to cope with the severe environmental conditions that humankind is faced with. Presently, it is not known how our bodies will need to adapt to the harsh extremities being faced through the ecological and environmental changes. However, it will be necessary to protect the human body from the imminent changes.

The purpose of this research is to create novel forms of architecture in constructing a carapace, acting as a shield to the body. Using architectural design in combination with biochemical engineering, forms of bioregenerative architectural outputs are created, combining human with non-human organisms, explicating a mode of critical posthuman practice.

The thesis and the interconnected research by design inform a response to anthropocentrism, speciesism and biopolitics. The analysis and applications of experimentation with living organisms in combination with novel use of photographic methods will be paramount in constructing hybrid bioregenerative life-support systems.  The systems designed will be pertinent on Earth as a response to potential existential risk, and for future interplanetary inhabitation.

This research aims to explore the present-day body from a new and uncharted viewpoint through the use of advanced apparatus and technologies. Examining forms of sympoietic relationality, challenging the perception of the body as a singular cultural agent. Methodologically, the systemic approaches in creating a carapace will function as a set of biologically integrated interfaces between the body and its surroundings.

In principle, this research sets out to reimagine and redefine the body in an environmentally fragile planet — achieving new aesthetics, evidencing systems and materials which respond to internal and external transformations relating to the human body, through the construction of Exoskeletal Hybrid Living Systems (EHLS).


Ram Shergill captures a kaleidoscope of different cultures through his photography. Internationally recognised for his contribution to the industry, Ram remains at the forefront of his field, using photography and design to create a discussion that questions the notion of identity, dress and the power of performance. Ram is a visiting lecturer at UAL and has previously lectured at Falmouth University and Arts University Bournemouth. In addition to lecturing, he has been a keynote speaker at various conferences and galleries internationally. Ram was awarded the Arts Culture and Theatre Award (ACTA) in 2016 for his contribution to photography. His work has been shown in exhibitions worldwide including Sotheby’s, The Wallace Collection, Somerset House, and the Whitechapel Gallery. Ram Shergill’s portraits of Amy Winehouse are now in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Image: ‘Sympoietic Alliance’ - photograph by Ram Shergill