Anthropocene Island: the TAB 2017 curated exhibition



15.09. – 27.10.2017

Anthropocene Island explores a design method operating at the confluence of disciplines including biology, computation and urban design. It explores a non-anthropocentric point of view on urbanity, based on the realisation that in our contemporary global world it is impossible to trace a clear distinction between nature and artifice, landscape and city, and ultimately between the biosphere and the urbansphere.

If we look at contemporary global cities from afar we can see that it is quite difficult to define the boundaries between the natural and the artificial, and despite them being large artificial systems, they develop patterns that seem to recall natural formations of a radically different kind. Anthropocene Island looks at the city of Tallinn and at Paljassaare peninsula to the north of Tallinn, from this multiplicity of perspectives, from the micro to the macro and back again.

When we look at cities from the satellite view we realise that this depiction of urban territory provides us with a different set of boundaries that depart from the traditional distinction between the artificial (the city) and the natural (the landscape). Looking at cities from the micro scale of energy flows into organisms we get another set of distinctions that allow us to discover processes of collective intelligence and to question the problems defined by the scale of the urban.

This is what we call a non-anthropocentric view of the urban. From this perspective cities and their morphologies are mostly determined by flows of matter, information and energy that fuel their metabolisms. This shifts our attention from looking at urban form (figure ground) to the morphogenetic process that underpins the current morphology of an urban landscape: we can look at cities as living systems.

With this exhibition, we aim to mobilise a number of perspectives that extend below, above and to the side of our customary human (Anthropos) view. In this respect, we are suggesting a strategy to critically question the geo-ecological period that scientists call the Anthropocene.

The invited participants – architects, artists and scientists – have been asked to structure their projects through multiple lenses such as simulated morphologies, biological models and urban protocols.

The exhibition conveys the challenges and necessities of designing within the complex milieu of contemporary cities of which the peninsula of Paljassaare in Tallinn provides a case study, where multiple degrees of stability, instability and diversity coexist.

Anthropocene Island, as a new body of commissioned design work and experiments, tests out a collective and revealing mode of operating across multiple practices and scales.

Curator: Claudia Pasquero


Urban Morphogenesis Lab
Maj Plemenitas
Heather Barnett
Rachel Armstrong
Studio Unseen
BiotA Lab


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