The International Algae Competition Award Winners

by Robert Henrikson

How Growing Algae Will Change The World and Improve Our Lives
Imagine living in cities where buildings are covered with green photosynthetic membranes and vertical gardens, collecting the sun’s energy and producing food for urban citizens. Imagine greening desert coastlines, producing for millions of people, and recycling agricultural wastes into animal feed and biofertilizers.

The International Algae Competition challenged architects, engineers, scientists, algae enthusiasts and students from around the world to design visionary algae food and energy systems. From 40 countries, participants submitted 140 amazing entries.

The organizers, Robert Henrikson and Mark Edwards, have announced seven prize winners from the 40 finalists. These represent a glimpse into our future, harnessing the promise of algae, 30 times more productive than terrestrial plants. Here are some of the emerging themes, schemes and dreams in algae landscape and architecture design, novel algae production systems and delicious new foods from algae.

Abundance Prize and Best Video ($3000) was awarded to Green Loop: Marina City Global Algae Retrofitting, Chicago by Influx_Studio, Mario Caceres and Christian Canonico. This is an algae based strategy for a new sustainable model in urban areas, re-envisioning one of the most iconic buildings in the Loop of Chicago: Marina City Towers. This environmental concept is committed to the Chicago Climate Action Plan, by growing algae, absorbing CO2, harvesting energy, filtering water and producing food onsite.

Influx_Studio, a design firm run by Mario Caceres, an architect from Chile, and Italian architect Christian Canonico, picked Marina City as a case study to show what algae retrofitting could look like. “We are convinced that even if a less ambitious version was made, it could be a great step forward for Marina City’s green future. We are true believers in algae technology and we are currently focusing in other initiatives to integrate it in urban centers.”

Two winners will share the Algae Landscape Design First Prize ($2000).

Two winners will share the Algae Landscape Design First Prize ($2000)

Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution. GSA Federal Building, Los Angeles, CA, by Hok/Vanderweil, Sean Quinn.The goal is to design a zero environmental footprint and energy self-sufficiency using Living Building Challenge 2.0 guidelines. Photovoltaic and solar thermal panels cover the roof, tracing the sun through the day. Thin film PV shading devices line the windows, reduce glare and reflect light deeper into the interior. A modular system of algae tubes wraps the building and absorbs the sun’s radiation, produce lipids for fuel, and shades interior office spaces.

Urban Algae Culture in Gangxiacun, Shenzhen China, by Kady, Wong Hoi Kei & Kate, Lau Hoi Ying & Perry Li.The Urban River from Waste to Source is a proposed masterplan for an urban village of 20,000 people within the larger Shenzhen city of 14 million people. The proposal re-articulates the ‘urban river’, the historic landform of Shenzhen, as a decentralized wastewater treatment network with recycled water on a roofscape. This elevated urban river roofscape has modular algae units for waste treatment and fuel production, urban farming and community space.

Two winners will share the Algae Production Systems First Prize ($2000).

Two winners will share the Algae Production Systems First Prize ($2000)

Circular Tank Technology to reduce production costs, by Vincent Guigon, Antenna Technologies, Geneva.Antenna is an NGO promoting spirulina against malnutrition with projects in Africa and Asia to make spirulina more affordable. Today there are about 10 farms initiated by Antenna running by themselves in 8 countries. Antenna developed circular tank technology with a rotating central axis using wind or solar energy for stirring and cleaning to reduce these costs by 20% through long lasting maintenance of culture quality without purges.

Organic spirulina microfarm with biogas plant. Normandy, France, by Laurent Lecesve, Hybrid énergies & Eco-Systèmes. The farm contains 4 ponds of 50m2, micro-digester, heat pump with heat network connected to digester and ponds, harvesting room with press and solar dryer, and a culture laboratory. The goal of the digester is to grow spirulina organically using cow and horse manure as main inputs. HyES is part of the Federation de Spiruliniers de France, created to join small-­scale farmers and promote this new agriculture business model.

Two winners will share the Algae Food Development First Prize ($2000).

Two winners will share the Algae Food Development First Prize ($2000)

Biosphere Instant Soup Concept by Lucie Bolzec, founder of Delis Design Studio, France. Algae, vegetables and herbs inside an alginate sphere. The transparent sphere, made from red algae extract, is edible and liquifies in hot water. Three soup recipes are Bretonne, Provençale and Japonaise. Biosphere gives a moment of pleasure, a taste discovery and a spectacular transformation of the sphere.

Dances With Algae, by Lynn Cornish, Scott Hubley, Romelda Nickerson, Josie Todd, Canada. Marine Algae Foods and Recipes. By including macroalgae in commonly consumed foods we can provide beneficial health effects. Foods on a typical menu at the fictional ‘Algalicious Cafe and Restaurant’ are cultivated sea vegetable bouquet, caper stir-fry, kombu-banded seafood cakes and algee-licious popcorn.

The Appreciation Prize voted by participants ($1000)
The Appreciation Prize voted by participants ($1000) was awarded to Algae Powered Mushroom Farm in Congo, Africa, by 10 Design Group, Ted Givins. An algae powered mobile mushroom farm can be placed anywhere in the world to support micro-economic development in poverty stricken regions. Algae will be a food source and provide fertilizer for mushrooms. Two target groups are urban homeless and rural poor. Congo-Kinshasa in Africa was selected for the first farm. The farms are lightweight, easily shipped and hand carried to sites. Four farms can be shipped in a 40’ container.

International Algae Competition Background

The International Algae Competition was founded by Robert Henrikson and Mark Edwards of the Algae Alliance ( Algae Competition objectives are to create an open source collaboratory that expands and shares a vision for algae in our future with design ideas for algae production landscapes, sustainable and affordable algae production systems (APS) for food, feed, energy, nutrients, water remediation, carbon capture and fine medicines, and superb new algae foods.

Competition winners, finalists and many entries will be recognized in upcoming media news releases, articles, videos, publications, exhibitions and Imagine Our Algae Future, a full color book based on the International Algae Competition to be available soon on

We are now prospecting public exhibition venues and sponsors for 2012 Algae Competition Exhibitions in museums, conference centers and universities around the world. These will be a multi-sensory experience of landscape and architecture designs on wall murals and video monitors, working models and algae food and beverages to delight the taste. Please contact us if you have recommendations, would like to participate, or would like to know more.

Robert Henrikson is a business entrepreneur with over 30 years in sustainable development of algae, bamboo and forest carbon. Algae bioneer, he is author of the book “Spirulina World Food,” former President of Earthrise Spirulina, and founder of Earthrise Farms. Consultant on algae, products, branding, sales, marketing and media strategy, Robert created International Bamboo Building Design Competition, with registrants from 64 countries, and published “Bamboo Architecture” on the competition.

Mark Edwards, PhD, is Professor of Strategic Marketing and Sustainability at W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University. Known internationally for inventions in advanced metrics, Mark consults, speaks and does R&D globally on sustainable and affordable food and energy production with algae. He has authored over 100 academic papers and 12 books including a business and science best-seller. “Green Algae Strategy” was awarded the “2009 Best Science Book” by Independent Publishers.

Award Sponsors

Evodos BV Separation Excellence. Totally Dewatering Algae. Alive. The ideal interface between growing and refining. It is Evodos’ mission to support our customers with the best products for mechanical separation at minimal energy consumption without chemicals or consumables.

NanoVoltaix (NVI) is an engineering services provider to the cleantech sector, focusing on commercialization of disruptive technologies and production methods. Nanotechnology offers solutions to the world’s resource problems and novel products for photovoltaics and biofuels.

Social Media: Algae Competition on Facebook and YouTube.