Client: Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, Lea Ann & Steve Fowler
Location: Austin, TX, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $25,000
Zoe Powell Best
JP Thwaits AKA HappyCat Jay
Ingrid Spencer and Donald Miller
Waterloo Greenway Conservancy
BioNest is a project about biomaterials and designing with nature. Created by multidisciplinary collective Wevolve Labs for a temporary exhibition at Creek Show 2021 in Austin Texas, the project takes inspiration from the biology of plants and animals found in the region of Waller Creek where the project was situated. Each free-standing “lantern” features a translucent bio-plastic skin made primarily from seaweed and plants harvested from different places across West Texas. Each structure is site-specific and identifiable by the ecology of plant matter within the material. The structures are joined in conversation with each other with a synchronized light and sound display. The entire work is bio-degradable and can return to the earth at the end of its life, partaking in the new circular economy by designing with nature, tradition, and abundant materials.
The goal of BioNest was to deliver a site-specific light installation that engaged both Waterloo Greenway's developing park system at Waller Creek and an audience of over 60,000 during a 10-day festival. The purpose of the festival is to draw attention and fundraising to Waterloo Greenway Conservancy's ongoing work, delivering a new 1.5-mile modern park system to bring the Austin community together through the regeneration of Waller Creek.
The use of raw materials from renewable biomass sources offers a petroleum-free alternative to plastic that harms our natural ecosystems. Developed specifically for this application, BioNest's unique bio-material is created by mixing water, seaweed powder, glycerin, and other ingredients with heat, then cast into molds before drying.
The grid-shell framework was made by steaming strips of oak and weaving them together, creating a strong and lightweight structure. This technique was developed through dedicated research into indigenous technology, specifically traditional basketry and skin-on-frame boats.
Wevolve Labs was founded by Nicholas DeBruyne in 2018 and is presently based in Austin, TX. Wevolve Labs is an international multidisciplinary collective that works in big art, architectural design, and social impact, believing creativity has the power to connect people and ideas.