Research Interests

The research of Marcos Cruz is structured into individually-led theoretical and design investigations, EPSRC funded research of the BiotA Lab, the practice of marcosandmarjan, and the teaching activity mainly centered on the activity as a tutor of BioID, MArch AD/rC7 and Diploma Unit 20.

Bio-Integrated Design 
The design of urban habitat today is being shaped by the outcomes of two key revolutions, biotechnology and computation, and our exposure to the long-lasting effects of climate change. Bio-Integrated Design takes these life-changing phenomena as the foundation for radically new, yet also critical design solutions that help developing our future built environment. Nature plays a central role that goes beyond being a simple environmental regulator, model or inspiration; it is in itself the medium of a multi-layered design approach that is biologically, materially and socially integrated.

Bio-Integrated Design embraces a wide range of expertise, including high-end design and computation; biology and lab protocols; multifunctional materials and space; fabrication and environment. It combines in unique way scientific methods with design experimentation, looking for new modes of simulation and production, and how advances in biotechnology, synthetic biology and material science are leading towards a truly interdisciplinary design.

Bioreceptive Design
with Richard Beckett and Javier Ruiz

In a time of unprecedented urban development there is today an urgency to find new ways to improve the environmental quality of our cities. Bioreceptive Design explores the emergence of a new bio-digital, material phenomenon that is changing the environmental performativity of architecture. Moving beyond nature-inspired to nature-integrated design, Bioreceptive Design defines a paradigm shift from the notion of skin, one of the most used metaphors in contemporary architecture, to that of an architectural bark, offering a different interface for material-tectonic-environmental negotiations to take place between nature and architecture. Unlike current approaches to bolt-on vertical greening systems, the research explores biocolonisation of buildings and infrastructures, whereby diverse microbial communities interact with the material substrate in which nature becomes embedded within the architectural fabric.

A discussion on aesthetics and the unpredictable dimension of nature and growth challenges our traditional preference for “cleanliness” in favour of more a contemporary understanding of natural and thus ‘impure’ aesthetics, which includes more three-dimensional, complex and figurative patterns. 

Bioreceptivity is a term defined by Olivier Guillitte in 1995. It forms the basis of a bottom up approach design methodology centered upon a series of inherent material conditions, specific environmental factors and species dependent deviations. Digital design, simulation and fabrication methods reveal a time-based, evolving condition as a new tool for sustainable design. Bioreceptive Design explores projects in which material and environmental conditions are assessed at various scales simultaneously. It uses complex self generative computational tools to reveal a parameter-driven, evolutionary design process turned into 1:1 building prototypes that define new parameters of a bio-digital materiality. Bioreceptive Design utilizes interdisciplinary work methods, requiring knowledge in high-end computation, manufacturing, design engineering, along with lab protocols and biology.

Computational Seeding of Bioreceptive Materials - EPSRC funded research
Prof Marcos Cruz (PI), Richard Beckett, Dr Sandra Manso, Dr Chris Leung, Bill Watts

The research focuses on developing a new type of bioreceptive façade panels for the built environment. Using a novel type of bioreceptive concrete and environmentally driven design, the panels aim to promote micro-organic growth directly on building façades and infrastructure walls.
with Richard Beckett

SYN.DE.BIO is an online forum that disseminates bio-digital work in the emerging crossroad of design, biology and engineering. It promotes a new network of designers, artists and scientists who employ novel design methods and innovative fabrication techniques to explore biological material in the built environment. Advances in the field of synthetic biology, biotechnology, molecular engineering and material sciences, as well as new modes of production and simulation in architecture, product and textile design, are leading towards an increasing complex approach to design. The result is a new sense of materiality, new hybrid technologies and unprecedented living forms. 

Neoplasmatic Architecture

NEOPLASMATIC ARCHITECTURE investigates the impact of innovative technology on current design practices, in particular what concerns the advent of synthetic life in architecture. It looks at advances in new digital media and biotechnology within a design context that is increasingly more interdisciplinary, while simultaneously focusing on a new spatial, programmatic and linguistic dimension of architecture.
The results of this research have been published in the edition AD – Neoplasmatic Design, guest-edited by Marcos Cruz and Steve Pike (John Wiley & Sons) in November 2008. A crucial part of this interdisciplinary research looks at how new semi-living conditions and digital technologies can have a real impact on our future living. This research is driven by innovative products, material and bio-technological investigations, and is directed at speculative dwelling typologies. A series of 1:1 prototypes for objects and future domestic spaces, involving new fabrication techniques and digital and responsive technologies is currently being planned (2010-2012).

The Body in architecture

This research is dedicated to a future vision of the body in architecture. It questions our ‘human flesh’ and its altered relationship with a new contemporary ‘architectural flesh’. Different body conceptions are analyzed in historic and aesthetic terms, helping to recognize the emergence of a present condition known as Cyborgian Body - a widely accepted new existential condition that still needs to be redefined. The underlying argument of this investigation is that today's architecture has failed the body with its long heritage of physical detachment, purity of form, and aesthetics of cleanliness. But a resurgence of interest in flesh, especially in art, has led to politics of abjection, changing completely traditional aesthetics, and is now giving light to an alternative discussion about the body in architecture. Through the comparative analysis of a variety of 20th century and also contemporary projects, along with the design of new building typologies, 'flesh' is proposed as a concept that extends the meaning of skin, one of architecture's most fundamental metaphors. Hence, in a time when a pervasive discourse about the impact of digital technologies risks turning the architectural skin ever more disembodied, the aim is to put forward a ‘thick embodied flesh’ by creating architectural interfaces that are truly inhabitable.

An important part of this investigation (done within the premise of Diploma Unit 20) focuses on spaces with an intrinsic spiritual dimension, in which the impact of new digital languages and techniques, notions of embodiment and bodily engagement, and broader cultural and religious motivations can be developed. Apart from numerous projects, there is a major exhibition at Christ Church Spitalfields in London and a publication of marcosandmarjan in progress (due in 2010).

Previous research includes:

Inside Out Urbanism

The crucial motivation of this cross-disciplinary research is a new and holistic approach in urban design that seeks going beyond past models defined, for example, in Lynch’s The Image of the City (1960), Venturi and Scott Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas (1972), and Rowe and Koetter’s Collage City (1984), or even Deleuze and Guattari’s Rhizome theory applied to urban design (A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 1987). This method involves a rather new ecology-driven understanding of urbanism in which the concept of sustainability is understood as an exclusively low-tech or hi-tech preoccupation. Instead, a variety of social, cultural and political factors are taken into account. The influence of local traditions, the development of socio-economic conditions, and, above all, the decisive role of digital design in the spatial/formal re-qualification of contemporary cities is complemented by a coherent employment of innovative technologies in the field of renewable energies and materials. In this context, a range of digital techniques, such as intense 3D modeling in addition to CNC, CAD/CAM and rapid prototyping are implemented. This research focuses on new experimental design solutions that are not only based on the usual planimetric/diagrammatic and predictive thinking, but rather on a high level of formal, material and spatial three-dimensional complexity. The city and its endless interfaces are materialized from inside-out as a dynamic convolution of multiple three-dimensional cartographies, constructs and operations; as an urban manifold, or, in other words, understood as an ever-mutating Urban Flesh.

A major area of research is covered by the Middle East Research Group - MERG (with Marjan Colletti). It covers architectural, urban and environmental as well as agro-political strategies for extreme rural (desert) and urban environments in Middle Eastern countries.

Previous research submitted at the Bartlett UCL - RAE 2007: