Imagine modifying the DNA of plants to grow buildings, or that of bees to create flying machines. Imagine a crab that turns into a construction machine, and a stingray that’s also a submarine. It all sounds like the realm of science-fiction, but designer Vasil Hnatiuk believes that this could be the future of synthetic biology.

Borrowing from recent breakthroughs in DNA editing and design, Hnatiuk, an Emmy award-winning designer and animator, has created a visual essay (above) that envisions the “design and engineering possibilities that this technology can bring to us in the future”.

But what is synthetic biology? To put it really simply, it is a science that applies engineering principles to biology, to redesign and reconstruct existing biological systems and organisms, or to create new ones. Scientists do this by going straight to the root of all living things – the DNA.

While much of synthetic biology is focused on pharmaceuticals or fuels, Hnatiuk has big plans for the future. These include living, organic cities, animals and insects that become complex “living machines”, and even extraterrestrial colonisation.

Like the narrator says in the video, “The natural world is filled with building blocks of the DNA software which, combined with engineering, will open breathtaking possibilities. Fully unlocking this code will bring us to greatest technological advancements ever known to our civilisation.”