Who is Mitchell Joachim?

Joachim once said:

“The ideas that we proffer are based on off-the-shelf existing technologies. We just change the solution-bases and do things that aren’t necessarily as obvious. We don’t have a problem with thinking about science fiction – in fact we actually embrace it.”

To kick-start the Back to the Futurist series, we interviewed Mitchell Joachim, futurologist, and leader in ecological design and urbanism. The passionate and off-beat Joachim is Co-Founder of Terreform ONE, the official laboratory and non-profit design group that promotes green design in cities. He also runs Planetary ONE Partners and started Terrefuge, the Ecological Design Group for Urban Infrastructure, Building, Planning, and Art. Joachim is on the faculty at Columbia University and Parsons, was once an architect at Gehry Partners and Pei Cobb Freed. He also once pioneered a house made out of meat.

Media Coverage

“The 100 People Who Are Changing America” – Rolling Stone magazine

“The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To.” – Wired magazine

“[a visionary for] The Future of the Environment” – Popular Science

“Best Invention of the Year 2007″ – Time Magazine (for his Compacted Car with MIT’s Smart Cities)

Joachim's Fab Tree Hab Village: 100% Living Habitat Prefabricated with Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Reusable Scaffolds to Graft Trees into Shape. Source: archinode.com


Which futurists past and present inspire you and why?

One of my favourite futurists is Antonio Sant’Elia. His images of movement in architecture are simply iconic. The extrusion of mobility systems to the surface of buildings made mundane circulation seem radical.

What’s your favourite work by a futurist?

From Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne because without it NASA would never have had the cogent vision to land on another planet…or rather moon.

What are the most challenging aspects of your work as a futurist?

Telling people I’m not making predictions or promises. I just speculate in great detail.

Which recent developments in science, engineering and design do you consider the most significant to the future?

Geo-engineering and Synthetic Biology are the future technologies to watch for designers. Working very big (at the scale of a continent) or very small (cell level) is where the action is.

Of the past predictions that never became a reality, which are your favourite and why?

Jet Packs! What other form of mobility could possibly be more exciting? Maybe teleportation….

The future – dystopian or utopian?

Both off the mark– it is “Eutopia” the original meaning is good place not no place. Eutopia is vital because it creates a best case solution to real world problems, not an incremental compromise we often see as an answer.

Schools teach History. Should they teach ‘Futurology’?

Not really.

Of your present and past futurology works, which do you consider the most significant?

Our Brooklyn Navy Yard Project, Super Docking, was completed in conjunction with some of the Partners in Planetary ONE.

It best represents our lager focus on new technologies engaging the the future economy and job production. As it takes an existing post industrial landscape and retools into a vision of hyper-manufacturing at enormous scales. We explored battle ship sized 3d printing and fully operational robotic ecologies that test for environmental impacts.

"On an urban industrial site in Brooklyn, New York, Super Docking imagines a self-sustained working waterfront as a center for clean industries that are incubators for new technologies. The designed landscape is adapted to local climate dynamics and is outfitted for a living infrastructure to seamlessly connect land and water." Source: archinode.com

"Overhead of Navy yard. The project interfaces the historic dry-docks, which are retrofitted into five distinct research and production facilities; massive 3D digital prototyping/ scanning, replicable test beds for studies in limnology and restorative ecology, freight delivery of raw materials and finished goods, automated shipbuilding, and phytoremediation barges for CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) issues. The surface of the site mitigates architectural space and river flows." Source: archinode.com


He’s been awarded the Moshe Safdie Research Fellowship, the History Channel and Infiniti Design Excellence Award for the City of the Future. His project, Fab Tree Hab, has been exhibited at MoMA and widely published. Winner of the Victor Papanek Social Design Award sponsored by the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the Austrian Cultural Forum, and the Museum of Arts and Design in 2011. He earned a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MAUD Harvard University, M.Arch. Columbia University, and BPS SUNY at Buffalo with Honors.

See more of Joachim’s amazing works: archinode.com

Joachim at TED.com

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