Mackenzie van Dam
University College London
Mackenzie is a M.Arch candidate at the University College London pursuing a research-based degree at the Bio-Integrated Design Lab. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and has previously worked at the Living Architecture Systems with contributions to the designs of San Jose International Airport, Meander, Futurium Noosphere, and various competitions. Mackenzie’s research focuses on emergent form-finding, urban ecologies and bio-fabrication.
Mackenzie’s current thesis project at UCL is titled Immanent Metabolisms, an optimistic speculation on future architecture that attempts to shift design thinking to embody intentional ecology. The research rethinks architecture as a series of synthetic organs with active and engaged interiors, where curated material ecologies are designed to have productive roles within their surrounding ecosystem. Membranes are shaped by their environments, so as to ingest and resonate with environmental datasets and CFD analysis.
Current design research focuses on synthetic soils – an urban design project which nurtures many of the microbial specimens that would normally be found in subterranean forest floors (specifically cyanobacteria, earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi). Through the design of object ecologies which absorb and integrate, these micro-environments nurture keystone species, expanding their presence in cities while bridging the divide between the urban and the wild.