I’m not sure exactly how I stumbled on Dr Mitchell Joachim’s In Vitro Meat Habitat but I guess it was while I was doing some early research for my PhD back in 2010.
Dr Joachim’s model was all about exploring innovative ways to create environmentally-friendly housing. The prototype was never intended to be used to create real houses for people to live in but as a way to stretch the thinking of future architects and builders, and to inspire them.
It definitely inspired me, although probably not in the way Dr Joachim intended.
A house made of meat cells
I just loved the idea of a house made out of meat cells and I wanted to know: What sort of person would live in such a house? Where would they build it?
Turns out my answers to those questions were:
1. A delusional and potentially psychopathic, yet environmentally conscious, surgeon.
2. In the remote Cape York wilderness in the grounds of an abandoned resort.
Pork crackling anyone?
In Dirt Circus League, when Asa first sees the Meat House up close she says “It almost looks like pork crackling.”
Quarter explains, “It’s a special compound Surgeon developed. Environmentally sustainable. Made from the cells of wild pigs.” Asa is grossed out, and says “You mean it really is pork crackling? Eww!”
But that’s not the reason most of the Dirt Circus League refuse to step inside it unless they absolutely have to.
They hate going there because it has a clinical chill that is so out of place in the heat and wilderness of Cape York.
And because Surgeon lives there.
A woman's Meat House is her castle
The Meat House was one of the first elements I created for the world of the Dirt Circus League, and Surgeon lived in it right from the very first draft.
She would not be the character she is without the Meat House. Essentially, Surgeon is the Meat House, and the house is her. It’s a marriage made in heaven, or more likely hell.
And with all the multiple drafts and revisions I’ve done of Dirt Circus League over the past 10 years — too many to count — the words introducing Meat House have never changed.
I can see it so clearly in my mind, to me, it’s as if it does exist. I’d love someone out there with art skills to create it as a piece of 2D or 3D art.
The future of bio-architecture
I’ll always be grateful to Dr Joachim for his work that helped spark such an important place in the Dirt Circus League world, and the story that unfolds there.
He’s the co-founder of Terreform, a non-profit architecture and urban design group, and he still works on bio-architecture projects.