The Jellyfish House designed by San Francisco-based architects Iwamoto-Scott is modeled on the idea that, like the sea creature, it coexists with its environment as a set of distributed, networked senses and responses. Jellyfish have no brain, no central nervous system, no eyes, and consist largely of the water around them. Yet, they sense light and odor, are self-propulsive, bioluminescent and highly adaptive to changing aquaculture. Like jellyfish, the house attempts to incorporate emerging material and digital technologies in a reflexive, environmentally contingent manner. The house is designed as a mutable layered skin, or ‘deep surface’, that mediates internal and external environments. The skin is designed as a parametric mesh that uses efficient geometric logics of Delauney triangulation and the Voronoi diagram. It deforms in thickness locally for geometric, structural, visual, and mechanical performance.
The house is a transformative prototype for reclaimed land. Specifically, it is sited on Treasure Island, a flat, artificial island built off the naturally occurring island of Yerba Buena in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Treasure Island is at once local and distant, isolated and connected. It has recently been decommissioned by the military, and is being redeveloped largely for new residences. Like many former military bases, Treasure Island suffers from a range of environmental hazards. The most geographically desirable parts of the island have toxic soil that requires remediation. In these areas, the particular hazardous materials necessitate that up to five feet of topsoil be removed for cleansing. In other areas, the contaminated soil can be treated on site using plant based phyto-remediation techniques. The proposed site strategy is to infiltrate the island with sinuous fields of wetlands that allow the removed soil to not have to be replaced, and remediate the remaining toxins. In addition, the wetlands act as a filtration system for the island, becoming a form of productive infrastructure that naturally filters stormwater run-off.