• Aerial rendering of Spirabilis v2 showing its six phytotrons and structural / infrastructural column field for rainwater collection.

  • Rendering of the building’s floor plate showing the distribution of columnar elements which, in addition to providing structural support, act as funnels for the collection of rainwater.

  • Interior rendering of a living cluster, with kitchen, lounge and dwelling units, situated within the building’s column field.

  • Rendering of phytotron 4. The complete array of phytotrons cultivate all the nourishment, both air and nutrition, required for human life based on NASA research. Phytotron 4 is the fats cultivator, with a dry hot climate. Cultivated here are olive trees, avocados, tomatoes, and columns of chamomile, dill, oregano, and basil. The algae columns are controlled through micro input/output valves, with 5 years of stored emergency oxygen.

  • Interior rendering of a typical phytotron environment featuring oxygen generating algae tubes and hydroponic vegetation systems.

Spirabilis v2


Architectural Proposal


Speculative proposal commissioned for the exhibition EcoRedux 2 at the Design Museum in Barcelona and further developed for the exhibition Elsewhere Envisioned at the Gallatin Labowitz Gallery at New York University.

Project Description

“Do you know, my friends, that a curious establishment might be founded with rooms of oxygen, where people whose system is weakened could for a few hours live a more active life. Fancy parties where the room was saturated with this heroic fluid, theaters where it should be kept at high pressure; what passion in the souls of the actors and spectators! What fire, what enthusiasm!!”  Jules Verne, Around the Moon

 pneumastudio’s inspiration for Spirabilis is Diogenes of Apollonia, ca. 5 B.C. who believed air to be the source of all being, the primal force that composed both intelligence and the soul. Nature in the constructed environment can be a bit of a sacred cow tethered to trees, shrubs, and the rolling hill.  Rather than “naturalize” the artificial, Spirabilis celebrates artificiality while harnessing the elemental means of sustaining life in a total ecological living system.

 Spirabilis utilizes NASA research on closed ecological life support systems to inform the design and development of an environmentally sealed building complex, located on a remote site in Antarctica that relies on algae-harvesting technology to produce oxygen for the building’s inhabitants. Each of the building’s oxygen farms, a small forest of algae tubes suspended within a large-scale greenhouse enclosure, or “phytotron,” provides clean air to the building’s inhabitants through micro-controlled output valves. Additionally, these suspended forests of algae tubes also function as giant chandeliers, providing the phytotrons with indirect lighting at night and producing a variety of compelling visual, formal, and spatial effects. In this respect, the laws of nature are newly shaped, complemented, and extended with technology for aesthetic as well as instrumental purposes.


Project Credits



Architectural Proposal : pneumastudio

Design Team: Cathryn Dwyre, Chris Perry, Justin Snider, Dave Mulder