HORTUS — or Hydro Organisms Responsive To Urban Stimuli — is a crazy new exhibit in London made up of 325 transparent bags of algae hanging from the ceiling via a network of ropes. Long plastic tubes hang from the bags and visitors are instructed to blow into them to feed the algae — which ranges in color from dark green, to pink, to brown — with their breath. Devised by the Architectural Association School of Architecture, the crazy algae greenhouse is a way for visitors to use their own carbon emissions to foster new life.
In addition to asking visitors to interact with the algae, the exhibit has a digital interface where people take pictures of themselves feeding the algae and then tweet them, therefore becoming an actual and digital part of the installation. Each bag of algae is also outfitted with a QR code that allows visitors to scan it and then read about the kind of algae they are helping to grow — there are nine different types of algae in the installation. HORTUS was created by London based studio Eco Logic Studio , a partnership between Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto.
HORTUS hovers at the intersection of art, science and architecture. It is a room where living things create an architecture of their own and humans are invited to interact with them, help them grow and learn from their processes. The exhibition asks why we should have to relegate gardening or renewable energy creation to the darker reaches of our towns and cities. Why not just hang it from the ceiling where it can not only enrich the visuals of our spaces but teach us about biology and our relationship with nature along the way.