The Transgenic Zoo

Peter Yeadon‘s Transgenic Zoo is an ongoing case study which explores the architectural implications of nanotechnology and nanobiotechnology. “We’re already designing new forms of life and new classes of substance,” says Yeadon referring to cloning, genetically modified food and nanotechnologies. “So, how can architecture acknowledge this era of living products?”

The TZ would be situated in Toronto. The existing zoo would be relocated downtown and enhanced with bioengineered plants and animals. The bioengineered creatures are already available: we have injected jellyfish genes into plants to make glow in the dark trees, cloned goats, etc.


Polymer scaffold have been developed at the University of Washington to grow human organs such as liver, bones or heart. At the Zoo, such a scaffold would be installed to grow human nails for a neighbourhood beauty salon.

Buildings in the TZ are another form of life. They would be covered by a receptive molecular coating of peptides and proteins that act as messengers. Peptides can self-assemble and conform with environmental influences. For instance, a building might seal off its openings at the sign of harmful gases or defend itself against water damage by transforming its facade into water-repellent reptile scale.

Gecko feet can adhere to any surface and university are developing adhesives that mimick gecko’s properties. In Yeadon’s scenario, self-climbing conveyance devices called Geckovators would replace elevators and interior corridors. People would move freely alonf the facades of the buildings to get to the desired suite.

Via I.D. Magazine (PDF of the article from the architect’s website).