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IM-A Studio
IM-A Studio
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Future Protein explores our relationship with water by developing a remote-sensing predictive model for mussel farms and implementing adaptive rituals for rising sea levels. The project aims to introduce the concept of living, cultivating, consuming food and recycling shells for biomaterials within the evolving landscape of climate change. The ecological footprint of mussels is evaluated using bio- and nitrogen credits, sustainable food sourcing, and the use of shell-based materials. This methodology could be applied in the future to other foods.

“Nature is a valuable resource that is currently undervalued”. -George Birch

Starting from the current conditions, we explore the future perspective when we shift our habitat to the water, where our communities could be more oriented towards aquatic farms as a food source. Mussels become the centre of the project Future Protein as they are more sustainable proteins that do not use antibiotics or feed during the farming process compared to the fish industry. Besides, they have many other environmental benefits, such as filtering water, observing CO2 and nitrogen, and improving biodiversity.

Proclaiming mussel farming, we aim to help adapt our food system to climate conditions and rising sea levels. This transition from traditional agriculture to sustainable aquaculture introduces nature as an asset through a credit system into the market economy. Currently, nitrogen and biodiversity credits quickly gain value and have a high price, while for various economies, they have become obligatory to buy.

Nitrogen and biodiversity are credited with the most significant financial value, along with water filtration, mussel-shell recycling in biomaterials, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Nitrogen and CO2 are more straightforward to calculate than biodiversity. Mussels are crucial in enhancing the surrounding ecosystem. For instance, this approach boosts marine biodiversity and underscores the importance of fostering symbiotic relationships by sharing mussels with diverse species, including birds.

Satellite image, the Netherlands, 2024

Satellite image, the Netherlands, 2024

Remote sensing predictive model

What if you clearly can see the ecological footprint of today's meal or calculate the environmental impact of industry growth?

Mussel ID is a remote-sensing model that predicts the development of mussel farming and shows its potential in terms of nutrition and ecological value now, in 50, and 100 years. The model is trained on a set of satellite images and data of existing mussel farms in various locations. Currently, the users can introduce the number of credits or the amount of protein they want to gain, and it will suggest the size of the farm to build and how long it will take to fill those parameters.

There is a formula behind the model that uses collected data from satellite images and ther resources:

The Mussel ID Formula

Biowaste and shell-based materials as byproducts

We suggest closing the cycle of mussel consumption and reducing ecological footprint by utilising mussel-based materials in various design applications, and even for creating objects for new eating rituals.

Biowaste is a significant byproduct of consuming any type of food. For example, there are around 330 grams of shell waste for each kg of mussels. The shells can be incorporated into PLA in smaller quantities or, with a much higher percentage, can be blended into cement-like materials rich in CO2 and calcium. These versatile materials can be utilised across various fabrication methods, such as moulding and 3D printing, resulting in tangible representations of the ecological impact of the food industry.

Approximate value and contribution to the environmental footprint and credits can be calculated for every object. Even if the financial value changes, the quantity of shells marked on the object can be a currency symbolising its significance.

In our project, we created a series of objects designed using AI and generative design and 3D printed using PLA with mussels and mussel shells-based ceramics.

Adaptive Rituals: Introducing Mussels to Food Culture

The popularity of mussels varies across different countries, and they are not always tied to coastal regions. When choosing one protein over another for its sustainability, exploring ways to enhance its cultural appeal and flavour is crucial. Introducing new recipes and elevating the presentation and dining experience can naturally spark curiosity about sustainable choices.

For our project, we looked into multiple recipes to find a new way of looking at mussels. One of them is an Italian black pie with mussels, potatoes and squid. In many cultures, pie is the centre of the table, an attractor to get together. Maybe this time, the attractor could be the mussel pie.

The second recipe originates from India. Pani puri is a street vegetarian dish in which bread spheres are filled with potato, onion, or chickpeas. It has an exciting participatory serving method, breaking a ball, and the dinners add all the ingredients. In our version, we decided to experiment and add mussels fried in spices to the recipe, which works well with mashed potatoes and becomes a protein-rich dish.

Aquatic Foraging Event

Aquatic Foraging Event

We made a trip with the HEC team to the Yersek area in the Netherlands to collect food directly from the shore. Imagine if we, as a community, rediscovered the art of gathering our own food, minimising the gap between us and the source of our sustenance. How might this reshape the entire food chain and positively impact our mental well-being? Could it foster a sense of independence and resilience against corporate influence? And what if we reimagined our relationship with water altogether?

The Food-sharing Event at Studio Other Spaces

With the digital prototype and food-sharing event, we wanted to introduce the impression of living, growing food, and eating in the new reality of global warming. Food sharing is a sociable form of gathering, and it will be used as a vehicle for building community around the crucial issue.

Aquatic Futures

Aquatic Futures

Beautiful vernacular examples of living on the water exist, such as the Tofinou of Benin, documented in Julia Watson's Lo-Tech book. Various architects and thinkers have explored the concept of living on water over the last decades, but living around aquatic food sources remains relatively unexplored. There is a possibility that, at some point, we will live around mussel farms or visit them, as we currently visit parks. As a next step, we are interested in designing and visualising these communities in the future.

IM-A Studio is an artistic duo: Katya Bryskina and Nataly Khadziakova. The studio designs the future of living and looks for a third entity between nature and technology. The work incorporates cutting-edge technologies, bio-based material research and speculative narratives to poetically explore our possible futures through the medium of art.

KATYA BRYSKINA is an artist and experimental architect. She combines digital fabrication and inspirations from biology to bring ecosystemic thought and aesthetics to the future of living. She holds a Master's Degree in Emergent Technology and Design from the Architectural Association School of Architecture (London, UK). She was a researcher at The New Normal think-tank at Strelka Institute (Moscow, RU), a resident at SPACE10, IKEA's research and design lab (Copenhagen, DE), and Non-Extractive Architecture at V-A-C Foundation (Venice, IT). She has exhibited and presented her work internationally in addition to teaching and publications.

NATALY KHADZIAKOVA (NEMKOVA) is an architect and landscape urbanist. She has a strong interest in interactive environments and new approaches to architecture. Her works have been marked at international competitions, including YAC and Leonardo. Nataly holds an MSc from Architectural Association, Landscape Urbanism programme, then worked for the international office Gustafson-Porter+Bowman. Speaker at the AA symposium Design Agency within Earth Systems.