Biosphere 2 represents one of humanity’s most acute efforts to control nature in a comprehensive way. The project was conceived in the 1980s as an experiment to demonstrate that humans could build and occupy a completely self-sustaining ecosystem. While it was not fully successful in its original mission, the facility continues to provide unique circumstances in which natural biomes can grow and evolve in isolation from the surrounding Arizona desert.
My fascination with Biosphere 2 stems in large part from its failures. Wandering throughout the enormous terrarium, it is impossible to ignore all the ways in which the “nature” here relies upon constant human intervention to thrive. Simultaneously, the audacious architecture is now more than thirty years old, and struggling to sustain its core purpose: preventing the surrounding outdoors from creeping in. The entire endeavor has become a testament to the irrepressible interweaving of humans and our ecological surroundings.