• Bioplastics! Architecture's Many Natures
    Meredith Miller

Meredith Miller, detail view of Half-Acre/Half-Life, a decomposing landscape installation, 2012, Ann Arbor, MI. Courtesy of the author.

Where "plastics!" once offered a vision of an atectonic, fully synthetic architecture, impervious to the deteriorating effects of time or environment, the arrival of bioplastics has occasioned less excitement in architecture. This is not only due to their inherent instability, not a sought-after quality in building materials, but also because their environmental advantages have been widely challenged. The uncertain status of bioplastics as "natural" or "synthetic," as welcome innovation or sorry substitution, may have parallels in how we perceive architecture's materiality at a moment of heightened ecological anxieties. Bioplastics! Architecture's Many Natures positions two scales of research on bioplastics to formulate an approach to design practice that can navigate a post-natural contemporary condition. As a territorial investigation, the project surveys the landscapes, techniques, and significances of plant-based polymer manufacturing in the Midwest; through material research, the project tests the design potential of various biopolymers cooked from everyday ingredients.

Meredith Miller is an architect whose work explores the interactions of architecture, environments, and urban life. Recent projects include Electrofrost, an experiment in materializing atmosphere on surfaces; Rights of Way: Mobility and the City, an exhibition at the Boston Society of Architects; and Site Double, a full-scale installation at the 2012 Venice Biennale’s Common Grounds. She is assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where she entered as an A. Alfred Taubman Fellow in 2009–10. She coedited Jakarta: Architecture + Adaptation, which discusses the effects of inundation in Jakarta and features work from an interdisciplinary travel studio. Her writing has also been featured in the Journal of Architectural Education, Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, and Political Economy, MONU, Pidgin, Thresholds, and ARPA Journal. She received her MArch from Princeton University and holds a BS in architecture from the University of Virginia. Miller has previously practiced at design firms in New York and Boston, where she was a project architect with Höweler + Yoon Architecture.