The Strawberry Effect

Render, Students

The Strawberry Effect

Meric Arslanoglu

Archiprix TR 2016, National Graduation Project Competition | 1st Prize



“The Strawberry Effect” project takes place in the factory of the man-made experience where the natural ceased to exist, beside the Hudson River, in the end of the “High Line” promenade and investigates artificial environments of the future and speculates about innovative synthetic materials with the help of bio-chemical experiments.



The relationship between New York City and nature depends on artificial experiences, just like acquired strawberry flavour. Imagine in the early 60’s, when strawberry flavours were not common. People would have to say, “Wow, this artificial flavour just tastes like real strawberry!”  Fast forward some 50 years to now, when you would hear: “Actual fruit of strawberry don’t taste like instant flavour any more.” It is an acquired taste. We have slowly acquired a taste of a strawberry far from the true fruit.“ Totally designed instant chemicals, but we call it “strawberry” flavour. It reminds living in NYC.


Main social elements of the Manhattan’s city structure such as “Central Park”, “High Line Promenade” and in the future “Lowline Park” are man-made environments pretend to be natural. Designers of the “High Line Park” state that it is highly designed for looking natural, just like “Central Park.” This city transforms a post-industrial railroad to a promenade with wild meadows, creates forest from a rectangular lot. What if we try to design an environment which doesn’t pretend to be natural? It means designing artificial experiences and synthetic ecology, designing instant flavour without imitating strawberry.



The project mainly uses primitive cells which is called “Protocell” and chemical compositions as indicator of the site’s specificity. For example, industrial wastes of Hudson River are considered as post-industrial heritage (just like High Line Railroad) and play vital role in the project’s synthetic environments.


“The Fish” swims inside of the transparent main space which comprises “Protocell” solution. This total liquid space provides opportunities for various functions with flexible architectural spaces with an intelligent skin. Solution is covered by three layers of thick acrylic glass. “Interactive Flexible Surfaces” & Geotextile Layer decrease the liquid pressure on the surrounding structure. Also these elements create “stream beds” for “protocells”. “The Fish” floats  and can make flexible elements move inside of the liquid space.


“Protocell” Solution Pipes leak chemical compositions and these instant chemicals activate the process of crystalization. Crystals cling to the skin as a riverbed. After a while, architectural space which is frequently used begins to solidifying itself with its intelligent skin.


Who Influences you graphically?

I was pretty much influenced by 80’s synth wave (cyberpunk) graphics within the scope of my diploma project. Beside this, Edward Hopper’s paintings enable me new horizons for the atmospheres of the render scenes in my projects.


How did the notion of artificiality dictate the means through which you chose to reveal the project?

After I have defined “artificiality” term as one of the keywords in the conceptual progress, I researched specific topics of interest. At this point, Félix Guattari’s “The Three Ecologies” led me to get the information of architecture by “ecosophy” (ecosystem) of its place.  To deepen this perspective, I have interpreted urban ecologies and “instant” chemical compositions as an indicator of site’s specificity. In the pursuit of connection between synthetic environments and “Ballardian” landscapes of New York, materializing process equals the spatialization of local social-cultural practices by using the “protocell” solutions. For instance, industrial wastes of Hudson River are considered as post-industrial heritage (just like High Line Railroad) and play a vital role in the project’s artificial environments. All of these inputs provided a backbone for revealing the project.


What defined the use of the animation? To what extent could the project be solely revealed through the latter without the drawings? 

Actually, I believe that architects should consider more about the motion graphics instead of conventional “still image” representations in the digital age. These kinds of digital tools provide creative ways of thinking in the architectural practice, give people intense impressions about the atmosphere of the project. Probably we need to integrate our major with the interactive approaches that include VR videos, animations, GIFS from fundamental drawings.

While adapting contemporary techniques to architectural practice, drawings are still in where all the things have begun. Without sketching and drawing, a dream project cannot come true.

How could the notion of artificiality be explored further through the contemporary tool of virtual reality? Where does the physical drawing sit in relation to the proposal?

Rethinking artificial materiality through computation was one of the main challenges of the project. While I was performing several biochemical material experiments, I have noticed that it is really hard to explain how these unusual “protocell” blobs can be used for the responsive skins of the galleries. So, I tried to show working principles of the system and the synthetic cycle with the motion graphics. If you choose an innovative path, you need to adapt contemporary and interdisciplinary methods to architectural practice.


On the other hand, seeking successful experiments with alternative approaches is constructed on the foundation of conventional techniques such as physical drawings and models. While I was trying to expand my boundaries with contemporary tools, modifying old-school methods provided me a sophisticated background. A system section drawing evolved to an animation where spectators can understand how  “protocell” crystals cling to “ETFE” skins.


Istanbul based architect & designer was born in 1992. In the pursuit of connection between artistic and innovative aims, he has chosen to study architecture. He thinks that it is the way of dialogue for our cognitive existence and physical environment. Then he has received his bachelor degree in architecture at “Istanbul Technical University”. Also, he studied at “Universidade Fernando Pessoa / Porto” as an exchange student.

Meric is a dedicated architecture graduate who seeks successful experiments with alternate approaches which are later adopted by mainstream culture in terms of interdisciplinary collaborations, architectural theories, and digital media. He believes that giving flexibility to strict habits of designing process creates the user-friendly products and smart architectural spaces of future that can interact with the society.



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