Arthur Mamou-Mani, the architect of the future

Arthur Mamou-Mani belongs to that category of architects with an innate propensity for environmental problems, who have always been at the forefront of finding sustainable solutions based on a circular model in the construction and design, notoriously among those that produce more waste.

In his 3D printing workshop FubPub uses reused or organically derived materials such as those originated from sugar cane or corn and works on projects and installations that go beyond mere form to take on deeper meanings. Like installation Mellifera: The Dancing Bees presented at the latest London Design Festival and made with fermented sugar to focus on the diminishing bee population in the UK.

Or Aurora, which symbolized in the context of the exhibition Waste Age at the London Design Museum the end of the era of take-make-waste (the linear economy) and the dawn of environments conceived by regeneration. Without forgetting the Temple Galaxia, wooden spiral soaring towards the sky, the center of the Burning Man 2018 festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, during which the architect married his current partner. Waiting to inaugurate his new house being completed in an area of ​​London’s East End, entirely designed on the basis of his ideas, Mamou-Mani explains in an interview with Living its design philosophy.

The installation Mellifera: The Dancing Bees, created for the London Design Festival 2021 by Arthur Mamou-Mani. Photo Carmen Valin

What do we need and what are the expectations from design in the pandemic period?

We really need to realize how much the impact of what we use and buy costs the environment. Stay curious, take an interest in manufacturing processes, materials used and transport. Every single object travels from one place to another in the world, and only 9% of what are defined as ‘recyclable materials’ actually go back into circulation: therefore, for our part, it is not just a matter of throwing the waste in the right bin . Only the complete understanding of the entire cycle of the circular economy will allow us to be an active part in safeguarding the planet.

So what don’t we need?

I do not agree with the widespread opinion that capitalism is incompatible with the environment. The innovations we use – 3D printing, plastic and bio materials – allow us to intervene on the system without upsetting it. What I want is not to point the finger to indicate what to do or not but rather to encourage change through technology and understanding of new materials.

Do you think that for a sustainable future we must respect nature more or find a new way to manipulate it?

We have already interfered too much, it is late and we are too many. Nature is balance and we are part of it, the problem is that we influence the environment so heavily that it undermines it. There are so many pollinating insects, not only bees that we have dealt with, but we are so used to categorizing, thinking in watertight compartments. Instead, we must dissect all the aspects that contribute to the problem, here too: understand rather than interfere.

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The tower project in Bali in Indonesia is under construction. Photo courtesy of Arthur Mamou-Mani

With this scenario, will the human being be more protagonist or spectator of technology?

When we use 3D printing, our aim is not to create strange shapes but to bring back the true meanings of production to spread them to everyone. Try to avoid relocating the manufacture to remote places to reduce costs and then realize, as happened during Covid19, that we no longer produce anything and we are victims of the same system we have established.

Our FabPub – 3D printing manufacturing workshop in London’s Hackney area – is open and available to anyone. During the pandemic we ended up making masks for the NHS (National Health Service) and it was wonderful to have such an active social role while we generally remain disconnected from what we make and buy.

Where is research going in your work?

Our bioplastica it comes from sugar cane, which comes from areas like Thailand where deforestation is a real problem. To convert the entire plastic production into organic production we would need at least 50% of the corn produced globally and this is currently impossible as well as unsustainable. To control the entire life cycle of a product, we need to grow the raw materials – be it sugar cane or corn – so as not to compete with the food chain. We need to create vertical farms, have our own composting systems and follow all stages of production. In Italy you have an excellence in this field: Stefano Mancuso, world-renowned scientist who studies and deals with crops and sustainability. So, it’s not just a matter of shapes but of all the things, even boring, that lead to them.

Theory that translates into his immediate projects …

We are currently working on a wooden tower in Bali (Indonesia) built with the material obtained from an old demolished colonial bridge and we have just completed an interior project for the French telephone company Orange.

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Source: Living by living.corriere.it.

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