Stefano Mancuso (b. 1965, Italy) is the Director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV) in Florence, Italy; a founder of the International Society for Plant Signalling and Behaviour, and a professor at the University of Florence.
Pnat is a spin-off company of University of Florence and can rely on unmatched experimentations realised in one of the world’s most important research centre on plants, the International Laboratory for Plant Neurobiology (LINV) directed by the preeminent scientist Stefano Mancuso. He is one of the co-founders of Pnat, together with botanists, agronomists and the architects Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto.
Mancuso is a founder of the study of plant neurobiology, which explores signalling and communication at all levels of biological organisation, from genetics to molecules, cells and ecological communities. His recent books include The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behaviour, Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, and Measuring Roots: An Updated Approach.
As a co-designer of Therme Art’s vision and part of a broader collaboration, we are honoured to expand our partnership with Stefano Mancuso and Pnat by supporting Mutual Aid. At the heart of what defines sustainable design today, the installation aims to establish synergic relationships and provoke mutual exchanges between natural and artificial environments. As we begin to build anew in the midst of the pandemic, we hope that our collaborations with Pnat can articulate how we can learn from plant and fungi systems to grow a more just, balanced world.
Presented in the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (2021), the installation Mutual Aid proposes an inventive integration of nature within a more sustainable view of urban life. The hypothesis of the installation is that a strategy of mutual aid and sharing of key resources such as water, energy and food, as well as pure air, can be widely applicable to the urban scale, and that this theme should be included among the challenges of the urban resilience agenda.
The visitor enters the installation through a path in the midst of a landscape composed of long grass leaves, from which some glass volumes of different size emerge. The biggest glass cases host tall plants lighted from above. These elements are botanical filters, which purify the air of the room. The idea is to suggest an urban landscape where plants and the built environment are indistinguishable and where buildings (metaphorically: the display cases) not only do not create environmental impacts, but rather generate benefits (pure air) at a large landscape scale.
The installation is managed by a system of sensors and computers that take care of the logistics through which pure air is equally distributed throughout the system. The transfer of resources is made visible through lights that follow the flows in the pipes. A monitor displays the data related to air depuration and a short video explaining the strategy of sharing resources in ecological systems, and how it is imagined in urban systems.
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