Protocell promises to push architecture into a new direction from the molecule to cell design to the manufacture of the breathtaking, especially when viewed and augmented through the surrealist lens. The architects and scientists in this AD edition took up that challenge. I have to admit, I was really looking forward, to reading this edition of the AD, with Neil Spiller, once more, as one of the guest editors and contributors. I must first mention that I am still in two camps whether this edition actually reaches the same heights in ambition and execution as the AD editions of Architects in Cyberspace 1 & 2, which in my opinion herald in new innovative knowledge and synthesis of understanding of perception and materiality from a philosophical perspective. On the reverse of this AD edition it says "...architects have been unable to make effective use of biological systems in urban environments." This is undoubtedly the crux of the problem. How can architects use the sciences, as system designers, reconfiguring the existing chemical and biological worlds to design and build structures from scratch, which can grow and/or evolve (with the possibility of removing the builder from the equation) and/or designing and implementing nano based systems within existing structures to increase their performance and/or improve the longevity of obsolete materials? The narratives are advocated well, throughout this AD publication, except for one passage which appears to be, on the surface, slightly disjointed from the rest, namely (Authorship at Risk: The Role of the Architect by Dan Slavinsky). This section is more closely related to a hidden debate of patent and intellectual property rights of architects in this early field of investigation. Overall, I was not convinced, not by its passion, but by its lack of scientific rigours of experimentation, employed into, researching new areas of application, except for the section called (Defining New Architectural Design Principles with `Living' Inorganic Materials by Leroy Cronin) which gave clear indications of the author's intentions, of what could be achieved. So what is needed, from a biological perspective, to bridge the gap? What about the other side of the same coin. Organic chemistry/biology: Euthrophication? The building of new organic compounds/structures, buckminsterfullerene, can also offer further possibilities. Clearly, this AD edition is clearly pitched at the architectural student and the larger architectural research academicians, which is a shame. However, I do recommend this edition to the science and engineering communities. In summary, I believe this AD edition is worth buying, as it can provide inspiration, to start, highly novel compound research into materials and eventually structuralism, and beyond (not necessarily in architecture). This AD edition needs to be followed up, which demonstrates the authors' publishable results, through actual experimentation to establish whether if, their, hypotheses need corrections. Written by Lee Knight.
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