BIO 26 addresses the pressing issues of our society’s primary institutions of knowledge production and transmission, namely a library, a museum, a university and a news media organization. Together, science, academia, the media, and journalism have been considered the four pillars of truth of western society since the Enlightenment. In times of widespread misinformation, fake news, post-truth, and alternative facts, these same institutions might also be unjustly accused of being pillars of deceit. It is important to remember that one of the major issues of the information crisis concerns “truth” and reliable facts. The problem is founded less on the ability to get people to believe the wrong thing as it is on the ability to get people to doubt the right thing. As a result, these institutions are being shaken to their cores!

In addition to these four institutions, we have invited two more to be part of the designathon and to bring up their challenges for the creative community to hack: the botanical garden’s seed banks and a retirement home. At BIO 26, we believe that they also belong to the pillars of truth and knowledge in our society—the botanical garden with its invaluable knowledge of plants, seeds, and nature, and the retirement home with very experienced human beings, full of life histories and knowledge to share. We think we should also tap into these sources of knowledge, nature, and the elderly to seek better ways to interact and connect, learn, and care for our planet and each other.

Each of the six institutions presented their challenges for the participants.
Six winning projects received financial resources to be developed further into validated prototypes, installations, services, or systems that are on show during the Biennial of Design between 14 November 2019 and 9 February 2020.

The selected projects are presented below.