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Big Data: delving deep into biological sciences

Design work in progress currently taking place in the gallery.
Design work in progress currently taking place in the gallery.
Design work in progress currently taking place in the gallery.
Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
10 February 2014


Our MA Textile Futures design team, joined by architects from the Interactive Architecture Lab at the Bartlett, have been exploring how the biological sciences interact with big data.

It all started when two scientists in Cambridge managed to inscribe Shakespeare sonnets into DNA. We decided to explore what could be the implications of storing large amounts of data in living things.

To kick things off, six leading scientists shared their research work in a bespoke symposium organised for us by the Clinical Sciences Centre Medical Research Council on 22 January. Since then, our design teams have used these scientific presentations as a starting point for developing future design concepts.

Here are a few of the research questions they are posing:

  • Can we design a bespoke healthcare system for the future by biologically storing and harnessing personal medical data?
  • How can we use brain activity to control material behaviour?
  • Can we use DNA storage to to collect our personal living memories?
  • To what extent does current research into genomics give rise to opportunities for social control?
  • Can slime mould be engineered to detect and track ground pollution?

You can come and witness our design teams developing their work and ideas in the Lethaby Gallery. The exhibition is open Tuesdays to Fridays, from 12 to 5pm. Members of the public are also welcome to attend the final design presentations in the Lethaby Gallery on 12 February, from 2 to 5pm.

More information:
Big Data: Designing with the Materials of Life