Dream — Algae Landscape and Architecture Designs
by Robert Henrikson
ow will algae production be designed into future landscapes, buildings and communities? What will they look like and how will they work?
Algae Competition invited algae enthusiasts, architects, designers, visionaries, builders, students and teams to design integrated APS into future landscapes, farms, coastlines, cities, buildings and eco-communities.
Emerging Themes, Schemes and Dreams in Algae Landscape and Architecture Designs
- Enhancing quality of life in urban zones in the developing world
- Supporting recovering communities in the developing world
- Designing living buildings with photosynthetic architecture
- Retrofitting existing buildings with algae membranes
- Fueling algae-based urban eco-communities
- Showcasing algae parks for entertainment and recreation
- Living algae centers for education and research
Algae Competition Entries for Algae Landscape Designs
Here are some of the algae landscape design entries, and stories about them. All the algae landscape design entries are exhibited at AlgaeCompetition.com.
Enhancing quality of life in urban zones in the developing world
Restore: Symbiosis within a community. Restore is an algal shading device that uses the algae’s photosynthetic process to purify water and air, while producing biomass in the form of cooking oil for household consumption. During the day the canopy opens up to face the sun providing shade for the street, and at night folds up to provide a view of the stars while the bioluminescent algae continues to flow though the tube system emitting a radiant glow.
Restore is a symbol of community living; it needs participation from its neighbors to thrive. These structures encourage neighborhoods to recycle greywater to receive fresh water, cooking oil and cleaner air in return. Restore is intended for desert climate areas, which usually have limited access to clean water and offer ideal conditions for algae. To bring algae production into cities and to reduce the space currently used in algae farms, Restore lifts algae off the ground in a lattice of clear tubes that connect to a sturdy base for stability and storage.
Project Bio-Slum, Jakarta, Indonesia. Located in the wetland of WadukPluit in the Jakarta Penjaringan slums, Bio-Slum offers an alternative to palm oil for biodiesel. The project works in the urban landscape, avoiding deforestation, and fuses algae into daily activities, with an upper green layer shading residents below.
Palm oil production is one of the core reasons behind the rampant deforestation of Indonesia and demand is rising for biodiesel, accelerating deforestation and land use conflicts. Yet the preservation of Indonesia’s wetlands and peatlands is an essential component to the mitigation of climate change due to their carbon storing capabilities. Project Bio-Slum works within the current urban landscape, thus avoiding deforestation. It offers an engagement between algae farming and daily life, ultimately harmonizing and tying production and consumption.
Supporting recovering communities in the developing world
Algae Powered Mushroom Farm in Congo, Africa. A mobile algae powered mushroom farm can be placed anywhere in the world to support micro-economic development in poverty stricken regions. The farm will grow mushrooms because of their easy cultivation and high yield production. Algae will be used as a food source and to provide organic fertilizer for the mushrooms. The two main target groups to support the farms would be urban homeless and the poor of rural communities. The Congo-Kinshsasa region of Africa was selected for the first farm.
The farms are lightweight and easily shipped and carried by hand to rural sites. Four farms can be shipped in a 40’ shipping container. The mushroom farms start as dedicated farms but will morph into actual village houses. Ultimately entire villages could be composed of algae powered houses, providing food for residents, power and a clean source of water. By merging farms with housing, less clear cutting of native forests would be required. The villages themselves become the farm.
Stimulating a Future of Growth for Recovering Communities, Haiti. Algae Connects is a systems solution for clean water and food production in communities affected by disasters. One component is the algae connector, a device that uses algae to absorb water pollutants, filters algae from the water and transports the cleaned water.
A team of members from the Bio-Inspired Design Community has the goal to develop a systems solution involving algae that addresses problems in Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2011. A roadmap describes the barriers impeding progress and a series of interventions that could help overcome the barriers. The solution for integrating algal production into disaster relief should meet the need for clean drinking water.
Designing living buildings with photosynthetic architecture
BioOctonic Utility Tower, Zagreb, Croatia. Designed for any city, these vertical farming towers are designed for production of bio-fuel and city air recuperation, to be placed on existing petrol stations. First façade layer of the tower is an outer skin layer which is a tubular system for the growth of algae.
Design specifications of the BioOctonic Tower are: Location- any urban area in the world, Stories above Ground- 30 floors, Stories below Ground- 3 floors, Structure- reinforced and pre-stressed concrete, Height- 250 m or smaller, Landscape Area- 13400m2, Parking Lot– 25 cars.
PAM (Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia) Centre, Malaysia. As a living entity this building becomes the breathable Malaysian Institute of Architects. The outer skin is a glass shell reinforced with octagonal frames and perforated with controllable openings. Modular bio-reactor panels are placed at openings along the inner facade. Algae is contained in continuous loop tubes, which are self-perpetuating and require minimal maintenance.
A local maxim says, ‘The shade of trees is the most comfortable place a person can be in’. Comfortable because transpiration of the leaves reduce ambient thermal levels, the openness creates airflow, which counters humidity, and the air is kept fresh through re-oxygenation and filtration by the tree. The building components biomimic the stem-leaf mechanism of a tree, and reinforce the imagery of being in the tree’s shade.
Retrofitting existing buildings with algae membranes
Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution. Federal Building, Los Angeles. Buildings consume nearly half of the energy used within the United States, and those in operation for over 50 years contribute higher levels of carbon dioxide emissions due to inefficient systems and outdated construction. The goal is to design a zero environmental footprint and energy self-sufficiency for this existing building using Living Building Challenge 2.0 guidelines.
Photovoltaic and solar thermal panels cover the roof, tracking the sun throughout the day. Thin film PV shading devices line the windows, reducing glare and refracting light deeper into the interior. A modular system of algae tubes wrap the building and absorb the sun’s radiation to produce lipids for fuel production on site, and shade the interior office spaces.
Green Loop: Marina City Global Algae Retrofitting, Chicago. An algae proposal for one of the most innovative buildings in the Loop of Chicago: Marina City Towers. Aligned with the Chicago Climate Action Plan (2008), the goal is to showcase algae with green technologies that can clean polluted air, reuse water, and produce energy and food onsite.
What shall be the shape and the fingerprint of the next Zero Carbon economy in the big cities? Which spatial implications shall have algae’s new technologies, and what integration can be imagined for algae bioreactors in central urban areas? Re-use is by far the most sustainable option: the key issue is how anticipate algae’s green future in the core of the major cities, transforming existing buildings, where most people live and where CO2 emissions are highest.
Fueling algae based urban eco-communities
Eco-Pod: Pre-Cycled Modular Algae Bioreactor, Boston. Eco-Pod is a temporary vertical algae bioreactor and public commons built with custom prefab modules. The pods serve as biofuel sources and as micro-incubators for R&D programs. As an open and reconfigurable structure, the voids between pods form a network of vertical public parks and botanical gardens housing unique plant species.
An on-site robotic armature, powered by algae biofuel, will reconfigure the modules to maximize algae growth conditions and to accommodate changing needs. This is anticipatory architecture, generating a micro-urbanism that is agile and carbon net positive.
Urban Algae Bio-Fuel Production and Eco-Community in Kosovo. For central Prishtina, the busiest part of the capital with the least greenery, this eco-community is designed with seven floors for residential space, seventeen apartments, each with a green roof garden to grow produce for their own consumption or sell in the market. A market encourages local production and healthy living and a café, cinema and restaurant reinforces traditional culture. The eco-community building is linked to the public algae building with a glass roof to produce bio-fuel, food and compost.
Showcasing algae parks for recreation and entertainment
Energy Afterlife to Energy [Re]Production, Reykjanes, Iceland. Choreographing Algae, Plants and People with Geothermal Effluent. Creating a new landscape using the heat currently diverted to the ocean. Utilizing three programs: algae cultivation, re-vegetation strategies and human interaction in a thermal resource park.
Different algae species require specific temperatures to survive and thrive. Each species possesses a different tone, from a gradient of greens to blue-greens and red to purple tones. The orchestration of the thermal gradient supports a range of “Extreme Algae.” Geothermal, saline environments are very rare and opportunities to experience them as research, education and recreation are even rarer. This project presents the opportunity to create a unique destination park.
The Seeds @ Coney Island, Singapore. In 2010, Singapore designated Punggol New Town as the first suburban Eco-Town with the potential of 96,000 dwelling units and a test-bed for green technologies and urban solutions in energy, waste and water management. Across from Punggol Eco-Town is Coney Island, with the potential for Seed- a green park. Rain and surface runoff will be collected for algae for biofuel, water and spirulina. Play Tree, Water Bubbles, Sun Pipe and Wind Tree are interactive landscape elements that also harvest algae.
Bio-fuels will run the local transportation network and meet the island’s electricity demands. Profits from the sale of spirulina and its by-products can fund R&D and run the facilities on the island. Water extracted can be re-used for algae harvest and irrigation for farming and hydroponics.
Living algae centers for education and research
Alga Therapeia Center, San Sebastian, Spain. This proposed design seeks to create a research center for algae typical of the Basque coast for use in medical fields, food and industrial applications. A photo bioreactor skin generates the necessary energy for all building operations: therapy baths, solarium, kitchens, classrooms and research laboratory.
The tubular photo bioreactor becomes the axis of the architecture and the skin of the façade, the energy generator and the image of space and place. Just as the organization of the microscopic cells of green algae, the enclosure is arranged in circular geometries, creating the architectural look.
Eco Laboratory: Algae Microfarm Center, Seattle. This is a living building with algaculture, hydroponics, aquaculture, aeroponics, aquaponics and farming and includes a rooftop garden, algae bioreactors, farmers market, community gardens, orchards and greenhouses. The Algae Microfarm Center is the heart of the community. It controls the operations for managing the collection, storage, treatment, mixing, production, separation, processing and preparation of the water and nutrient sources used and reused within the building site.
Built to the standards of the Living Building Challenge™, this development mimics nature with its closed‐loop water and nutrient systems. The valuable nutrients recycled from wastewater flows, compostable foods, and yard wastes provide healthy food that is grown in both community gardens and commercial scale operations. Growing food locally provides safety and security and a special place for meeting relational needs with other people within the natural and human‐made environments.