IAS Presentation | Esmee Geerken – Build like a Shell, Being in the World in 2022

laatste update: 07-2022

Esmee Geerken, Artist and Earth Scientist kicks off her fellowship at IAS with an online presentation. She presents her research topic and explores possible links with researchers from other fields.

In this talk I intend to introduce myself and my fellowship project. I have a background in Earth Sciences and Art, combining both disciplines in a hybrid practice inspired by biomineralization and self-organization. My fellowship project ‘Build like a shell’ looks into building from a geological, chemical, biological and philosophical perspective. What does it mean to build today, how did building evolve over time and how shall we build in the future?

For the main course of geological time, most shapes have grown by the principle of self-organization, whereby order emerges without a master controller. Matter, life and human consciousness cascaded into order as elements were organized into ever more complex shapes, fueled by a source of energy: geothermal heat, the sun and predation. More recently – geologically speaking, humankind started to consciously design the environment, while disrupting eco- and climate systems. Does our expanding human ego, seeking to capture the world in models, floorplans and blueprints, interfere with our ability of ‘being in the world’? Can we reconnect to the building instincts imprinted in our collective consciousness by seeing our houses as part of our bodies and our cities as part of the ecosystem? Would it be possible to allow more entropy in our (design) thinking and grow cities in interaction with trees, insects, microbes, birds, soils, bedrock, minerals, water and air? What can we learn from self-assembling crystals for our architectural approaches? Hopefully I can address these questions in dialogue and collaboration with IAS fellows; this ‘Kick-off’ event will provide room to explore ideas together and discuss thoughts.

For more information about the event and Esmee Geerken, please visit:

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