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The Organismic Garden

Part 2 Project 2010
CéCile Ortolo
Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture de Paris Paris France
The Organismic Garden took birth through my interest and reflection in the notion of nature and the living organism in architecture.

Nature’ s mechanisms, with its forms, structures and organizing principles, appear as a powerful tool.
Nature has the capacity to regenerate constantly, to grow and to adapt itself to an environment, as we would not know how to conceive it.

I wanted to study these aspects to design a building, which would breathe, live, and evolve with time, adapting itself to an environment and a population both in constant mutation.

Observing moss and other vegetal mechanisms I investigated the notion of porosity. Porosity reveals the permeability of a material and allows the organism to capture and transfer elements. Indeed the building functionalities play with various types of porosity.

As a living organism the main skin of the building captures and absorbs contaminated elements while, underneath it, a more complex system of living machines is play a role of decontamination.

The roof becomes the garden and is divided into plots of lands supported by main structural veins. These footbridges lead to different fields of culture of the roof, which are:
- Public: for the surrounding population
- Privates: reserved to the scientist, to cultivate and observe rare species of plant.

Elevated footbridges surrounded by an accumulation of devices collecting and filtering rainwater lead the visitor to the building. Below which wetlands are playing their role of filtration, by purifying the water and the soil. This natural process reveals the complexity and the capacity nature, as it doesn't need any human interventions.

The journey in the living machine, in the guts of a natural performing system, reveals the actions of nature.


The Organismic Garden tends to reconnect Men with Nature in a site that has been totally demolished during World War II, and poorly reconstructed after then. The area suffers from a lack of urban planning as well as a lack of greeneries. This unexploited site becomes a place of culture, observation and experimentation; a place capable of gathering a population and evolving with time and nature’s unexpected transformations.

CéCile Ortolo


Cecile's work ‘Organismic Garden’ is a sensorial urban speculation on the concept of new natures. As a critique to architecture, a kit of parts or a Victorian collage of materials the project investigates how, through the use of biological systems, the built environment can adapt to natural elements but also react to the impact of pollution in London.

Based in the Lower Lea Valley in East London, the process of design incorporates the historical performance of heavy industrial machinery in order to articulate hybrids between science and nature. From a thorough research into moss and its purifying capacity Cecile exquisitely inserted porosity in the project from micro to macro performance. In this symbiotic world of machine and nature, the made and the born, the project re-creates an inhabited roof typology in relation to ground and infrastructure. Between top and lower levels the building programme peels off into an orchestrated exuberance of technical and sensorial spaces. Herbarium, hydroponic and aeroponic cultures blend into pedestrian footbridges and exquisite rainwater devices, leading to an elevated roof where structural components articulate moss and algae farms. Visitors experience semi-open and open areas in an atmosphere of light and colour inviting the exploration of gardens and its alternative stories of ecological augmentation and histories of devices and their environmental role.

‘Organismic Garden’ playfully and consistently explores the archaeology of future sustainability based not only on performance but also on culture and history of the site. It transforms the infrastructure of purification into a sensorial public experience, both tangible and tactile. In this hybrid world of efficiency and exuberance, the politics of environment is absorbed by the fragility of human habitat and its pulsating negotiation between action and desire.

Ricardo de Ostos

Tutor(s)

2010
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