Hybrid Forms

In August 2016 the project Symbiotic Machines for Space Exploration (SyMSE) was selected by NWO- Research Through Design Award. For the development of this interdisciplinary project key institutions are the collaborators: Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam, Willem de Kooning Academy, CEFET-RJ, European Space Agency, FLiNT, CNRS and Synergetica. In its first physical space, inside the Byofisica Dept. at the VU Amsterdam, the Hybrid Forms Lab is a horizontal research platform with a collaborative effort of scientists and artists/designers to explore environmental science, automation, living systems and biophysics. These disciplines are incorporated in the curricula of the students from the collaborative institutions.

Symbiotic Machines for Space Exploration

Humans are now drivers of environmental change on a scale that is unique in Earth’s history. Anthropocentric landscapes are characterised by reduced biodiversity and deteriorated ecosystems. In the meantime preparations are being made for lunar and Martian habitats, requiring a tremendous advancement in the methods and instrumentation of ecosynthesis. How will scientists and engineers working with artists and designers accomplish this pivotal endeavour? The urge to explore essentially uninhabitable environments is an important stimulus towards a metabolic approach in design and materials science. Symbiotic Machines for Space Exploration (SyMSE) is a project that aims to create an autonomous system for enhancing terrestrial ecosystems and facilitating atmospheric formation on other planets through artificial photosynthesis.

VU Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
WDKA Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam
ESA European Space Agency
Synergetica Lab Amsterdam
CEFET Federal Center for Technological Education Rio de Janeiro
LadHyX Ecole Polytechnique Paris


photosynthesis, terraforming, climate change, space flight, robotics, biosolar cells, citizen science, circular economy, sustainability


3 may – 7 june 2017 VU open course Hybrid Forms   images
31 may 2017 VU Sugar&Salt biodesign workshop   images
11 may 2017 Het Nieuwe Instituut Mars Night   info
26 apr – 10 may 2017 Synergetica residency at LadHyX
13 feb 2017 ESTEC biomaterials workshop   info   images
14 dec 2016 WDKA partner meeting
21 sep 2016 ESTEC partner meeting   notes
jul 2016 project starts



The research group Hybrid Forms is an started as an interdisciplinary group focusing on organisms living systems and robotics. Hybrid Forms offers a survey focused on the local environment, mobility, sustainability, renewable energy and developing prototypes for communication design / art, tools and interfaces that are engaged with the natural environment. One of the goals is to unify the curriculum of participants and create a platform for research and development across disciplines.

Energy is vital for all living organisms – and machines. The next upcoming event from HF is the Symbiotic Machine –  an autonomous bio-machine, which seeks and harvest energy from photosynthetic organisms, applying this energy into movement to be able to collect photosynthetic organisms again. These microorganisms are present in natural environment and can be found in ponds, canals, rivers and sea, which are a potential use to feed the Symbiotic Machine.  This project is developed in collaboration with scientists from VU Amsterdam  Biosolar Cell consortium  – Raoul Frese and Vincent Friebe – , Michiel Overbeek and engineer Leydervan Xavier from CEFET/RJ. It will be exhibited at Amstelpark in Amsterdam from 2nd March until 27th April 2014, invitated by Zone2Source.

+ info 


R. Frese, M. van Overbeek & V. Friebe. Picture by Ivan Henriques

Support from Stichting Doen




The group’s first project is EME>>‘s development, preparing the vehicle for future residencies, starting with Dutch artist Maureen Prins – SolarWorldCinema. Students will adapt the vehicle to receive solar panels that will feed the audio-visual system and alongside the artist they will make a selection of films that will be shown at Rio city.

poster 03

O grupo de pesquisa “Formas Híbridas” é um laboratório transdisciplinar com foco em organismos, sistemas vivos e robótica. Vários artistas, cientistas e institutos de pesquisa desenvolvem projetos entre sistemas vivos combinados com tecnologia. O grupo de pesquisa “Formas Híbridas” propõe uma pesquisa focada no meio ambiente local, mobilidade, sustentabilidade, energias renováveis e comunicação desenvolvendo protótipos de design/arte, ferramentas e interfaces que sejam coerentes com o meio ambiente natural. Um dos objetivos é unificar a grade curricular dos participantes e criar uma plataforma de pesquisa e desenvolvimento entre as disciplinas.


O primeiro projeto que o grupo está desenvolvendo é o EME>>, preparando o veículo para a próxima residência SolarWorldCinema, com a artista Holandesa Maureen Prins. Os alunos estão adaptando o veículo para receber painéis solares que alimentarão o sistema audio-visual para projeção e criando junto a artista uma seleção de filmes que serão projetados pela cidade do Rio.

Quando: de 19 de Novembro a 02 de Dezembro 2012

Onde: Rio de Janeiro

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