Urban Angiogenesis

BIO Smart City 3.0
Venice Architecture Biennale 2016
Knafo Klimor Architects & Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Ph.D.

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BIO Smart City 3.0 is a dynamic installation which applies the biological process of angiogenesis – through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing ones – in order to explore new methods of preventing urban over-densification

Using Nanomedicine Tools Used in Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy to Tackle Urban Overcrowding.

BIO Smart City 3.0 is a dynamic installation whichapplies the biological process of angiogenesis – through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing ones – in order to explore new methods of preventing urban over-densification. The installation consists of two `towers` measuring four and seven feet high, constructed from acrylic sheet. Red liquid flows continually through a series of Polyurethane conduits, intertwining within the two towers, demonstrating a healthy level of habitation. Simultaneously two other systems are working alternately: one showing the healing process of a diseases area in the structure, and the other emphasizing the collapse of an untreated area. The structures allude to the built and unbuilt urban fabric, the shade of the fluid is the identification and treatment of diseased areas due to unattended changes in population density.

Global trends of migration towards urban centers are increasing exponentially, overtaxing urban infrastructure to the point where it risks collapsing beyond repair. In order to assess the moment – where overcrowding in a city has reached ‘the point of no return’, this project examines if tackling urban sickness could be pioneered according to biological principles and methodologies which govern cancer research.
Urban Ecosystems
In the age of sustainability, cities are being re-conceived as ‘ecosystems’, environments marked by a fragile balance between ‘biotic’ living organisms and the non-living ‘a-biotic’ factors of their environment. The ability of inhabitants to thrive in nature is dependent upon the carrying capacity of its ecosystem. Earth systems are governed by a dynamic equilibrium. The complexity of nature is derived from the contradiction between these two terms. The urban ecosystem is dependent on thereciprocal relations between living elements and the infrastructure which conditions their quality of life.
These systems can be found in a variety of scales within many aspects of our lives, but a violation of their delicate balance will almost certainly instigate a process of compensation in order to regain stability. Moving beyond the traditional binary which separates the natural from the artificial, towards a more porous integration of the biotic and the a-biotic can imbue our cities with greater resilience and sustainability.
One of the greatest threats to this balance has to do with overpopulation, a point echoed by Malthus[1], who claimed that when population growth outgrows its resources, we reach a `Point of Crisis`. If we associate this theory with Israel’s urban population (92%), it becomes necessary to think of ways of maintaining balance within our urban ecosystem in order to prevent the `point of collapse`. Perceiving the city as a living organism requires that we look to nature for inspiration, and develop a mechanism that can mimic nature’s dynamic means of maintaining balance and resiliency.
Biology as a `Model, Measure and Mentor`[2]
 Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, is an important physiological process used for healing and reproduction. Abnormal angiogenesis, either excessive or insufficient, is associated with many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, amongst many others. In these cases, new ‘abnormal’ blood vessels grow and feed diseased tissues with nutrients and oxygen, provoking the destruction of normal tissues. In the case of cancer, the abnormal vessels allow the tumor mass to grow in size, and facilitate the spreading of cancerous cells into the circulation system, where they lodge in other organs and create tumor metastases.[3]
Interfering with the creation of these new networks of abnormal blood vessels prevents the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, stopping the cancer’s growth. While research shows a high prevalence of microscopic cancers in healthy people, the vast majority of these small lesions will never become cancerous and deadly, because they are not able to induce the formation of new blood vessels that nourish them. Therefore, there is an urgent unmet medical need to create smart probes that detect tiny lesions before they become symptomatic, or alternatively, to find a way to regress them in a selective manner back to a dormant or normal state.[4]

The suggested treatment relies on connecting existing methods to nanometer-sized smart carriers that will lead them selectively to target tumors and their surrounding network of blood vessels, and significantly reduce the amount of drugs required as well as the extent of the treatment, ultimately abrogating the side effects associated with standard chemotherapy.[5] It will eventually be possible to treat cancer patients based on a blood test, obfuscating the need to detect the tumors and their precise location. Using non-toxic nanomedicines, it may be possible in the future to treat cancer as a preventive measure before it becomes symptomatic or, in cases where one cannot be cured completely, to make cancer a chronic yet manageable disease. Understanding the interactions between tumor cells and normal cells will revolutionize the way we think about cancer, making it a curable or at least dormant disease leading to major improvement in the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Comparing cancer tumor development with rapid urban growth exhibits similarities in both processes: In both cases if left untreated, infrastructure grows at an uncontrollable pace in order to nourish the new ‘tissue’, both within the biological and urban realms, bringing the system closer to its ‘point of collapse`.
 Tel-Aviv provides a good example of this. Over the past decade, the city has evolved into a magnet for young creatives, causing a rise in growth and a change in the cities demographic structure. As a result, the local housing market has not been able to keep up with increasing demand. Various urban solutions are evolving in order to provide affordable and appropriate housing solutions, but these solutions frequently lack the necessary support and infrastructure, and frequently bring forth questionable living standards.

Cancer treatment engages smart nano-probes to identify and disrupt the infrastructure created during angiogenesis to treat diseased areas before they reach their pathological stage. This begs the question; can we treat overcrowding through the identification of both healthy or unhealthy infrastructure created as a result of rapid urban growth? These questions have become increasingly urgent in the case of Tel-Aviv, where market forces have created a massive change in the structure of the city, with little research or understanding as to how this will affect the city social and ecological services. Tel Aviv is today known as Israel’s startup capital, and is ranked as one of the most innovative cities worldwide. The city is undergoing a digital revolution through the implementation of innovative systems that enhance the well-being of city dwellers. The challenge is to embrace these emerging new solutions by innovatively applying and cross referencing accumulated data, and by optimizing tools for the creation of a more balanced urban ecosystem.

The application of bio-processes challenge current planning practices, and raise questions about the ways we can control the different disorders associated with urban densification. Can we monitor existing densification, determine the problematic issues and diagnose them in time to prevent collapse? Or should we expect a ‘point of Crisis’? The challenge is to use big data to leverage the benefits of densification, strengthening the advantages while simultaneously averting the `breaking bad` scenario.
Redefining the City – Towards Bio Smart City 3.0
Smart City 3.0 is supported by communication systems akin to sensory receptors in the human body. Processes in both the theoretical model and the human body are facilitated by the absorption of stimuli, and the response that follows the absorption of incoming incitements. Information gathered in the city allows us to monitor events and changing urban situations that require our response. Like the human body, where normative and pathological processes exist, the city is in a process of constant dynamic change where various processes of densification are carried out simultaneously as a new ‘tissue’ forms. In the body, there are natural mechanisms of control, but at a certain point, the body loses its ability to cure itself and pathological processes overtake and destroy the system. The use of ‘big data’ for analytical purposes, combined with the proposed nano-technological approach, can be applied to urban zones, sending `intelligent agents` to identify, detect and treat the affected area without destroying healthy tissues. These tools can prevent the development of destructive pathological phenomena, and strengthen the healing processes through a focused treatment suitably adapted to local problems.
Making the analogy between the biological research and urban planning constitutes a call to learn from physiological and pathological processes in nature and explore how we can harness the wisdom of nature and science for the benefit of planning and architecture. Just as the proposed cancer treatment uses the already accruing process in the body for the benefit of the treatment, Smart city 3.0 should use the evolving and accumulated data and information to provide targeted solutions for local situations. Integrating responsive technology that will react to a variety of issues and events is the key for establishing balanced, stable and resilient cites, all the while introducing a new social and environmental approach to the nature-human ecosystem.

 Professor Ronit Satchi-Fainaro is the Chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University. She is the Head of the Cancer Angiogenesis and Nanomedicine Laboratory at Tel Aviv University, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard University.

Mechanical & Electrical implementation: Eng. Yacov Biofcic, ER&D – Engineering, Research & Development
 Cancer Angiogenesis and Nanomedicine Laboratory, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University: Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, in collaboration with Galia Tiram.
 Supported by Tel Aviv University and Palram Industries LTD
[1]Malthus TR., (1798). An Essay on the Principle of Population. London: J. Johnson, in St. Paul`s Church-yard.
[2]Benyus, J.M., (1997). Biomimicry: innovation inspired by nature. New York, Quill.
[3]Judah Folkman, Tumor Angiogenesis: Therapeutic Implications, N Engl J Med 1971; 285:1182-1186.
[4]Tiram G, Segal E, Krivitsky A, Shreberk-Hassidim R, Ferber S, Ofek P, Udagawa T, Edry L, Shomron N, Roniger M, Kerem B, Shaked Y, Aviel-Ronen S, Barshack I, Calderón M, Haag R and Satchi-Fainaro R, Identification of Dormancy-Associated MicroRNAs for the Design of Osteosarcoma-Targeted Dendritic Polyglycerol Nanopolyplexes, ACS Nano 10(2): 2028-2045 (2016)
[5]Satchi-Fainaro R, Puder M, Davies JW, Tran HT, Sampson DA, Greene AK, Corfas G, Folkman J: Targeting angiogenesis with a conjugate of HPMA copolymer and TNP-470. Nat Med 2004, 10(3):255-261.