Biofilia - Base for Biological Arts

About Biofilia


New learning and research environment at the intersection of art,  life sciences and technology.

Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts, a biological art unit was launched under the Aalto ARTS in 2012. It offers a platform and infrastructure for trans-disciplinary research and education that aim at creating cultural discussion and innovation around the topics related to the manipulation of life and biological processes at a practical and theoretical level, including philosophical and ethical dimensions.

Aalto Biofilia is unique in the world as it has the only fully equipped biological lab that is operated by an art school and based in an electrical engineering building. It offers unparalled reseach capacity for the growing field of biological art.  The programme consist of research projects and a series of courses, lectures and hands-on workshops in the laboratory and natural environments exploring the interfaces between biosciences and art. It provides artists, researchers, students and scholars with the ability to engage with the life sciences and their applications within an artistic and cultural context, thus making creative and critical links between biosciences, engineering and the arts.

History in Brief

Biofilia laboratory and program was set up during 2011-2013 by a team consisting of professor Helena Sederholm, project manager Ulla Taipale  and laboratory manager Marika Hellman, in close cooperation with Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts, artists and founders of the SymbioticA – Centre for Excellence for Biological Arts in University of Western Australia. The interiors of the laboratory are designed by Samu Viitanen.

Since 2014, Biofilia has been integrated to the new Master Program in Visual Culture and Contemporary Art at Aalto ARTS, and headed by Professor Pia Lindman. Marika Hellman continues as Laboratory Manager.

Video of Aalto Biofilia 

Biofilia Advisory Board

Helena Sederholm, Professor, Aalto University, Finland
Erich Berger, Director, Bioartsociety, Finland
Oron Catts, Director, Symbiotica, University of Western Australia
Ulla Taipale, Director Capsula, Spain/Finland
Peter Galison, Professor, Director, Department of History of Science, Harvard University
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Professor, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

Collaboration between UWA and Aalto University

In June 2011 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between University of Western Australia, Perth, and Aalto University. From August 2012, SymbioticA -The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts ( Director Oron Catts and Academic co-ordinator Dr. Ionat Zurr are working in collaboration with Pia Lindman and Aalto ARTS to consult and contribute to the development of Biofilia.

Other collaborations

Biofilia integrates art and design with biology and technology, building transdisciplinary relations within Aalto University and beyond, with other Finnish and international universities, art agencies and agents working in the field of art&science.

Recent collaborations include the following institutions and networks:

  • Torneå Genomics Laboratory, Norway
  • University of Turku, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Plant Biology, Finland
  • VTT, Research Group in Synthetic Biology, Finland
  • Waag Society, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Bioartsociety, Helsinki, Finland
  • BioStrike (international artist and research network)
  • Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany 
  • The 7th Framework Programme, CORDIS, European Commission
  • Synergene. Responsible Research and Innovation in Synthetic Biology
  • Freiburg University, Germany
  • BioPeers, Peer Center for Biotech and Society 
  • GaudiLabs, Luzern, Switzerland
  • INTERCORE, a research network in microfluidics, including the following institutions:
  • University of Trento, Italy
  • MUSE, Trento, Italy
  • University of Cardiff, UK
  • University of Applied Science, Zürich, Switzerlan
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