When having a look at some of the concept art for the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) we all wanted to experiment with adding the human body in some way to the world. For this, I wanted to have a look at some of my favourite (don’t ask) organs/ bone structures and how these could be applied.


277456The spine. (, 2016).

  • The spine itself has five main functions;
  • to protect the spinal cord
  • balance and bodily stability
  • attachment points for the ribs, pelvic bones and many muscles
  • allowing the body flexibility and mobility
  • support of the structure and weight of the body in various activities

Before full development, the spine only has 33 bones- 9 bones do not fuse until adolescence. The vertebrae in the spine are coded first by the letter of the region (cervical, thoracic or lumbar) and a number which denotes their position along the superior-inferior axis. Eg. the fifth lumbar vertebra is known as the L5 vertebra.

Each vertebra has several key structural elements; the body, vertebral foramen, spinous process and transverse process.

  • The body is the main weight- making up the greatest part of the bone mass.
  • The transverse processes protrude from the body in the form of thin columns of bone, pointing to both the LHS and RHS of the body
  • The spinous process are additional processes, extending from the end of the transverse processes in a posterior direction.
  • Between all of the above three is vertebral foramen. It is a hollow space containing the spinal cord and meninges.

Thin layers of cartilage (the intervertebral discs) are located between the vertebrae. These are made from a shell known as the annulus fibrosus and a pulpy region, called the nucleus pulposus. In our own world this would not be appropriate as we want to protect the shell- could we create an armour around this some how? The annulus fibrosus is made of tough fibrocartilage that binds the vertebrae together but is flexible enough to allow for our movements.The inner nucleus pulposus acts as a shock absorber to support the body’s weight and prevent the vertebrae from painfully crashing into each other while under strain.


The vertebrae. (, 2016)

The vertebrae align to form a long hollow tube, protecting the spinal cord from damage and risk of infection. Between the vertebrai are the intervertebral canals. These allow the spinal nerves to exit the spinal cord and carry on to other parts of the body.

There are 5 major regions of the spine:

  1. Cervical: The 7 vertebrae in the neck form the cervical region of the spine. Cervical vertebrae are the thinnest and most delicate vertebrae in the spine but offer great flexibility to the neck. The first cervical vertebra, C1, supports the skull and is named “atlas” after the Greek titan who held the Earth on his shoulders. The skull pivots on the atlas when moving up and down. The second cervical vertebra, C2, is also known as the “axis” because it allows the skull and atlas to rotate to the left and right.
  2. Thoracic: The 12 vertebrae in the chest region form the spine’s thoracic region. Thoracic vertebrae are larger and stronger than cervical vertebrae but are much less flexible. The spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae point inferiorly to help lock the vertebrae together. A unique feature of the thoracic vertebrae is that each one forms joints with a pair of ribs to form the sturdy rib cage that protects the organs of the chest.
  3. Lumbar: The 5 vertebrae in the lower back form the lumbar region of the spine. Lumbar vertebrae are even larger and stronger than thoracic vertebrae, but are more flexible due to the lack of ribs in the lumbar region. All of the upper body’s weight bears down on the lumbar vertebrae, leading to many back problems in this region despite the size and strength of the vertebrae.
  4. Sacral: The sacral region of the spine contains only the sacrum, a single bone in the adult skeleton that is formed by the fusion of 5 smaller vertebrae during adolescence. The sacrum is a flat, triangular bone found in the lower back and wedged between the 2 hip bones.
  5. Coccygeal: The spine’s coccygeal region contains only the coccyx, a single bone in the adult skeleton that is formed by the fusion of 4 tiny vertebrae during adolescence. The coccyx is often referred to as the human tailbone, as this region is homologous to the tail bones of animals that have tails. In humans, the coccyx bears our body weight when sitting down and provides attachment points for muscles of the pelvic and gluteal regions. While most people have a coccyx made of 4 fused vertebrae, the coccyx may consist of as few as 3 or as many as 5 vertebrae. The length of the coccyx has no effect on the body’s function. (Gray, Pick and Howden, 1977). (All information from this source).

The Heart

The heart is responsible for the  circulation of blood in the body through two pathways; the pulmonary circuit and the systemic circuit. In the pulmonary circuit, the deoxygenated blood enters the right ventricle of the heart via the pulmonary artery and travels to the lungs, returning the oxygenated blood to the left atrium of the heats via the pulmonary vein. In the systemic circuit, oxygenated blood leaves the body through the left ventricle to the aorta. It then enters the arteries and capillaries where it supplies the bodies organs and tissues. The deoxygenated blood is returned through the vena cava, re-entering the right atrium.

The heart contains pacemaker cells (in the sinoatrial (SA) node) which cause the heart to contract producing a heart beat. I thought this would be an interesting concept to play with in our own designs- what if the electricity of the humans caused the heart to contract and the SA node acted as the government- controlling every movement?

Blockage of the  arteries in the heart result in the blood and oxygen supply being cut off- causing a heart attack. In our own city, this could be like a contest of elimination of the weakest organisms (see Darwin’s Survival for the Fittest). The parts of the city which are the most ghetto/ looked after would die off quicker. (Gray, Pick and Howden, 1977) .

HumanHeartDiagram_24311767 [Converted]

The human heart. (, 2016).

As you can see, the heart contains a lot of tubes (arteries and veins) running too and from it. These could be used, much like the in the heart, as a travel system acting as tunnels.

The Alveolus

These are the terminal ends to the bronchioles- acting as the site of gas exchange in the lungs. CO2 diffused from the blood in the body into the lungs to be expelled in exhalation and O2 is taken in from the air diffusion across the sac’s wall, into the body. The sacs contain an extremely thing respiratory membrane consisting of  squamous alveolar cell, squamous endothelial cell of the capillary, and their shared basement membrane. The major cell type, covering 95% of the surface is known as squamous (type I) alveolar cells.

Alveolus. They kind of look like grapes. (, 2016).

I thought these little bunch of grape like structures would look amazing when drawn in the style of Gábor Eszenyi. The little structures, joined by protruding metal as a support would look creepily skin like. To protect such a thin structure, however, could be protected by a really tight metal armour. I really like the idea that as the city grows and the cells divide, the structure can’t keep up, so is compressed against the walls in a way it looks like it may burst.


References (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016]. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Gray, H., Pick, T. and Howden, R. (1977). Anatomy, descriptive and surgical. New York: Bounty Books. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016]. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].


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