Public infrastructure projects that react to their environment. Furniture born from a petri dish. It’s the stuff science fiction dreams are made of. It’s also the stuff that David Benjamin’s firm, The Living, is obsessed with.
“We are working on several projects that are kind of ‘next-generation’ projects. For example, a floating pier in the East River in New York City that has lights that change color based on water quality,” Benjamin told Entrepreneur.com during a visit to New Lab, the co-working space in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he works from.
The pier is just one example of the smart public infrastructure projects Benjamin and his team at The Living are developing. “We are trying to experiment with systems that can be dynamic and responsive and adaptive,” said Benjamin.
The New Lab co-working space is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a former icon of manufacturing prowess in the U.S. that is in the midst of a renaissance. Entrepreneurs, artists and designers who work in the space are encouraged to collaborate across disciplines. The current New Lab space is the beta version of what will be an 84,000-square-foot facility that is expected to open in the fall of 2015.
One of Benjamin’s most mind-blowing, not-completely-possible-just-yet projects involves “growing” chairs from bacteria. The concept is that bacteria have the capacity to produce physical material, and with some manipulation, that material can be morphed into unique shapes and forms with rigid and flexible areas. The hope is that a glucose economy -- one that depends on bacteria to manufacture materials -- might someday become a sustainable alternative to our current oil-based economy. (The term “glucose economy” comes from the fact that bacteria thrive on sugar.)
Watch this video to hear more from Benjamin on how our built world will interact with us in the future and how bacteria could be the foundation for next-generation manufacturing.
Editor's Note: Entrepreneur Media is an investor and partner with AlleyNYC, a coworking space in New York City that competes with New Lab.