Design a self-sufficient closed city

Watermans is looking for architects and other professionals to contribute

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Imagine a city of the future isolated from the wider environment where humans become self-efficient. Food, energy, medicine, for example, is derived from human origin and man-made biological systems. Outside of the Isoculture city the environment will become a 'no-mans' land to help it recover from widespread human impact. In terms of their presence on the planet - humans aim to disappear.


Watermans is pleased to present ISOCULTURE by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, our major gallery project for 2013 that redesigns the city as a closed system where humans are entirely self-sustaining.

The creative investigation prepares inhabitants of the city to live in isolation from the wider environment. We consider how new science and technology could prepare us to live in hostile environments or travel on long space missions.

Get involved! We are looking for local professionals such as architects, engineers, technologists, environmentalists, futurologists or other professionals interested in taking part in the project. Please see also the Isoculture website for info: /isoculture/

The Isoculture project embraces future science & technology and prompts changes to our self-perception to redesign our humanworld. And by artificially recreating and updating the natural world, we understand and value our current relationship within the ecosystem on profound new levels. Ultimately, underpinning the project is the question of whether it's possible for humans to live in isolation (can we live independently to the wider ecosystem, build a self-sustaining man-made environment, what would the experience of living in this city-scale experiment be like? How will the city, its societal systems and human inhabitants be transformed? etc.)

We are going to transform the gallery space into the Isoculture laboratory where the leading artists will work with a small group of local professionals to conduct experiments and plan the future of the culture. Some of these sessions will be also open to the general public to attend. During the project, participants will be involved in city safaris, open workshops, discussions with experts as well as making sessions and a final display of the research.

The Isoculture gallery programme will also include open showcases of relevant projects by researchers, artists and designers.

We are going to bring experts to talk to participants and the wider public about isolated environments, geoengineering, nano and biotechnology as well as social scientists and futurologists. Some of these experts (still TBC) include open.NASA, European Space Agency, the Eden Project as well as academics, philosophers and researchers.

Isoculture is a collaborative project by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta

Michael Burton

Michael works on the edge of speculative design, arts, and as a researcher. He creates objects, images and films as insights into richly imagined scenarios exploring the choices we face in our evolution as a species and in redesigning life itself. Michael exhibits and presents internationally, most notably including work shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on tour at various galleries in Australia and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art. He leads a collaborative practice, working with organisations and individuals including scientists, performers, choreographers, designers and architects.


Michiko Nitta

Michiko is a multimedia designer graduated from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. She has subsequently exhibited her work in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt in Berlin and the V&A in London. Michiko has a number of publications to her name, spoken at conferences in the UK, US and China, currently working as a designer for artistic & commercial projects. A key theme that underlies her work is the relationship between nature and humans, often taking extreme vantage on how humans can change their perception to live symbiotically with the nature.

We invite you to join our Isoculture design laboratory. You can expect to work within the design team and contribute ideas of what this future city could be and help shape the experience of living inside this new culture.

The laboratory will run every Tuesday between 11th March - 22nd April, followed by 4weeks exhibition, where the result is shown to the public at the Watermans gallery.

@ Watermans and areas around Watermans

If you are interested, please email us at


February 7, 2013

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