Hybrid Forms

Research platform

Hybrid Forms Lab is a horizontal research platform with a collaborative effort of scientists, engineers and artists/designers to explore environmental science, automation and living systems.

Hybrid Forms Lab is an horizontal interdisciplinary research network that started in 2008. HFlab focuses on knowledge creation and exchange, with a collaborative effort of scientists, engineers, programmers and artists/designers to explore environmental science, automation and living systems, having sustainability as a goal. Artworks, design objects and innovative solutions for the environment are the outputs from the interdisciplinary approach. In some occasions the projects developed in the network are incorporated in the curricula of the students from the collaborative institutions around the globe. It promotes a bridge of knowledge between students, professionals and the bigger audience. Its first research started at the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro, with the mobile residency entitled Estudio Movel Experimental in 2009. Throughout the years HF Lab has established an international reputation and network. It has been funded by cultural and scientific governmental and non-governmental funds to develop its projects.


Willem de Kooning Academy, CEFET-RJ, European Space Agency, FLiNT, CNRS, Synergetica, Instituto Baia de Guanabara, Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam, ICM-BIO [Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade], CMET-Gent, Instituto Nacional de Tecnlologia – INT/Brasil


illustration of SyMSE  in Mars


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.

Partners & Timeline of events

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

Illustration of SyMSE as a floating architectural structure, placed in Tiete river in Sao Paulo, to filter the local air pollution




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.

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This project was made possible by: Stichting DOEN
Project collaborators: Michael van Overbeek; Vincent Friebe, Raoul Frese, Haagse Hogeschool Den Haag, Yvo van Os

images from top to bottom:Symbiotic Machine behaviour diagram in loop;  system diagram; Symbiotic Machine during the exhibition in Amslelpark Glasshuis, 2014.




EME >> Estúdio Móvel Experimental is a mobile residency working in a platform between art and science researching the natural environment and sustainability. EME >> has two main functions: as a customized camper van that is designed to be ecological, i.e., to adapt its machinery to the natural environment; and also as a mobile studio that can support facilities to explore the urban and natural environment, realize public/ live arts and educational events around the Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It opens space for artists and researchers to use the EME>> machine as a tool for communication and interface their work, the natural environment and the audience.

EME>> is idealized by artists Ivan Henriques and Silvia Leal . EME>> was commissioned by Mondriaan Fonds in 2012, Conexões Artes Visuais – FUNARTE in 2010 and launched in 2008 by the Secretaria de Cultura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.


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EME>> exploration in Mage city, Rio de Janeiro, 2008