By researching and referencing models found in nature, we can incorporate biological principles (cyclic, solar, local) into the design process and explore alternative sustainable and life-conducive design propositions for the future.
We ask questions such as:
- How can we collaborate with living systems to prototype new sustainable materials?
- How can we incorporate life-conducive values in the design process towards biocompatible solutions with surrounding ecosystems?
- How can we engineer biological systems in order to tackle contemporary challenges like urban resilience, human and environmental health?
- How can biodesign contribute to the circular economy?
- Can bio-computation simulate and model living systems towards energy and material efficiency?
Biodesign is an emerging discipline and despite a growing number of publications and exhibitions, there is no universal definition of biodesign as such. Other terminologies exists, such as biophilic design, bio-integrated design, biomimetic design, and bio-informed design, and they all offer variations of definitions which will be discussed at induction time, yet they all relate to similar principles: that we can learn from Nature to transition to more sustainable ways of life.
The MA Biodesign at Central Saint Martins UAL specifically understands biodesign as a means to incorporate the inherent life-conducive principles of biological living systems into the design process to achieve a transition to a more holistic sustainable future.
The course is dedicated to guide students towards a design inquiry and the development of a personal biodesign agenda which can facilitate the transition to a sustainable way of life. As such we are expecting students to fully engage with theoretical, scientific and cultural references to develop an ecological stance via their design practice. There is a strong emphasis on ethical issues related to sustainability and biodesign practice throughout the course.
MA Biodesign is delivered in Extended Full Time Mode which runs for 60 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week to study. The course has been designed in this way to enable you to pursue studies, whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities.
The course is structured around three units of twenty weeks each, 3 days per week.
The course is credit-rated at 180 credits. On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree). Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only.
If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits.
The units are designed so that you gradually become more and more independent in the development of your biodesign practice.
Unit one, Seed, establishes the foundations for biodesign and will let you explore a range of bio-informed design strategies via a series of laboratory and studio workshops, inductions, lectures and design projects. It will be front-loaded in terms of teaching and will require both individual and group work. You will be expected to be proactive, responsive and collaborative in your learning. Some projects will incorporate external scientific and/or industrial partners, others will be focused on your own learning and development. A series of knowledge-gathering and knowledge-mapping workshops will help you to integrate and discuss relevant theoretical and contextual references and will guide you towards the development of an annotated bibliography. The unit concludes with the submission of a biodesign portfolio which will evidence your learning and an oral and visual presentation that will test how you articulate and communicate your research and design work.
Unit two, Grow, allows you to build on the foundations of unit one to develop a personal biodesign agenda which will culminate in the submission of your MA Biodesign Project Proposal and relevant ethics and risk assessment forms, together with an R&D biodesign portfolio. In this unit, we will encourage you to be proactive and seek relevant external expertise and/or collaborations so that you can test your ideas and enrich your learning against external stakeholders. There will be a range of design and research methodologies workshops designed to support and challenge the development and delivery of your MA Biodesign Project Proposal. Whilst self-directed study will be prominent in this unit, peer learning activities will encourage you to articulate and discuss your personal agenda with your peers.
Unit three, Harvest, is dedicated to the creative production and communication of your final MA Biodesign project. The MA Biodesign project proposal submitted in unit two will provide the framework for the development of your project. You will discuss and report on your progress in regular tutorials and group critiques. There will be a strong emphasis on communication in this unit, as you will have to submit a short film/animation which will articulate the sustainable issues you are addressing and showcase your research, development and final design outputs. You will also have to present your final biodesign project in a 15 minutes oral and visual presentation followed by Q&A where you will be expected to clearly situate your project and be able to debate related sustainable issues.