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 algae production into future landscapes, farms, coastlines, cities, buildings and eco-communities. Algae Landscape Design categories ranged from urban landscapes, integrated commercial farms, community micro farms, village farms, suburban landscapes, rooftop systems, parks and gardens, agricultural landscapes, greenhouse systems, new model communities, and sea and ocean landscapes.
Emerging Themes, Schemes and Dreams in Algae Landscape and Architecture Designs
Numerous entries incorporated algae biofuel production systems in landscapes and architectural designs, reflecting the visibility of algae as a third generation biofuel. Nevertheless, entries overall did not focus on mega scale centralized corporate energy farms in remote locations as much as human scale interactive algae systems within localized urban, rural and water landscapes. Some themes, schemes and dreams have emerged:
- Regenerating the natural environment
- Restoring and enhancing polluted landscapes
- Redesigning urban master plans with algae production systems
- Creating urban green water parks with algae production systems
- Innovating the traditional seaweed and marine algae industry
- Floating algae biofuel production farms along coastlines
- Capturing and reusing CO2 emissions in transport networks
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.
Regenerating the natural environment
The Wilderness Catalyst, Czech Republic. Intervention on extremely devastated landscapes (man-made deserts) cultivates and discharges species of cyanobacteria as a catalyst for natural wildlife. Due to its adaptive features, NASA proposed cyanobacteria as a basis for creating life on Mars and it’s used as soil conditioner and biofertilizer to improve sandy soil in Saudi Arabia. This project is proposed for the brown coal basins in Czech Republic. Cyanobacteria of the Nostoc species can survive these conditions, absorb soil toxicity, and serve as biomass for further succession. Within 150 years virgin forest evolves from the devastated mine.
Shoreline Regeneration by Algae Cultivation in Cigu, Taiwan. A Sinking Shore Story. Historically, Taijiang Inland Sea was surrounded by seven offshore sandbanks, home to thousands of fishing boats. Now lagoon and sandbanks are disappearing. Algae is the base of the coastal food chain and is needed to build a new shoreline ecosystem. The process is to collect fish farm emission water to grow algae to construct a basic eco-loop, using abandoned oyster shells to make an algae cultivating oyster reef, creating wetland to attract wild fish, crab and animals, planting mangrove and coastal plants to attract wild birds. A new shoreline ecosystem is building!
Restoring and enhancing polluted landscapes
Algae Energy Exhibition Park, Jingzhou, Hubei, China. The site along the Hanjiang river was a coal-fired power plant, with coal ash covering 50% of the whole area, severely impacting air, land and water quality of the nearby communities. Treated CO2 from the industrial zone feeds the algae systems to produce energy for the park. The design of the algae park will provide the public a comfortable park and popularize alternative energy technology.
Echoes of an Ecos: A New Marshscape in Mumbai, India. From algae incubators to biofilters, a living machine: a hybrid algaescape in Mumbai’s marshes, a connecting tissue between the urban fabric and the ecological mesh of a marsh. “Ecology and urbanization pirouette around each other in an intellectual ballet”.
Redesigning urban master plans with algae production systems
[Infra] Structural Algae Ecology for Taipei, Taiwan. This strategy is focused on minimizing the amount of newly built impervious surface by suggesting a porous intertwined network of transport infrastructure. Rainwater will be harvested through the porous urban fabric and recycled for horizontal and vertical farming. Algal photo-bioreactor towers will collect CO2 from vehicles and buildings. Horizontal layers of hydroponics systems will provide food for the city. Grey water from the buildings’ mechanical services and rainwater will be circulated and used for both systems. The project presents a new cultural dimension of urban porosity—a three dimensional tapestry of spatial sequences.
Urban Algae Culture in Gangxiacun, Shenzhen China. The Urban River from Waste to Source. This 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 waste water treatment network with sources of 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. It provides an urban farming solution for this highly mobile under-privileged population and a new economic driver.
Creating urban green water parks with algae production systems
Carbon Dioxide Eliminating Floating Green Park, Hong Kong. Rule of Nature: Waste is Food. This sustainable system use algae to turn car exhaust (CO2) into power for the city. Three functional modules are the Algae Cell to turn CO2 to H2+O2, the Fuel Cell to convert gases to electricity, and the Storage Cell for the city power grid.
The site is a shore front expressway next to a dense urban residential development in Hong Kong. A CO2 collector system is integrated with noise barrier. Car exhaust CO2 is pumped to algae cell modules for hydrogen-producing marine algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to produce hydrogen and oxygen, separated by permeable membrane, then fed into the fuel cell to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, with water as by-product to irrigate vegetation on the module decks.
Algal Urbanism: 50-Year Master Plan for Alameda Air Base. Decommissioned since the 1970s, polluted and mostly abandoned, the redevelopment of this site on San Francisco Bay includes remediation of habitat and wetlands, infrastructure, tunnels and towers to sustain re-population and algae production for biofuel.
Innovating the traditional seaweed and marine algae industry
AlgÔ, or the Regeneration of the Baie de Morlaix by Seaweeds. The Baie de Morlaix, located in Brittany, is regarded as one of the last French estuaries not totally destroyed by human impact. It is famous for its goemoniers, 19th century seaweed collectors who went to sea to gather seaweed for medical purposes and natural fertilizers for agriculture. Nowadays goemoniers have all but disappeared and the seaweed population, which was one of the richest in the world thanks to the particular geography of the seabed and currents, is poor and damaged.
AlgÔ is a proposed floating seaweed farm, a fiber concrete structure with aerogel insulation and natural ventilation. Seaweed culture happens in two steps: first inside the building where it is incubated and second outside in fields, where different kinds of seaweed grow to bring more wildlife in the bay. AlgÔ will help clean the water, re-colonize the bay with wildlife and transform the local economy. It will be a lab, a seaweed exhibition and visitor center.
Seaweed Ethanol Distilleries in Scotland. Macro-Algae in the Micro Community. Utilizing Scotland’s natural resources to generate sustainable economies. To reverse the decline in the Scottish seaweed Industry, this project proposes to reestablish a thriving seaweed industry based on ethanol biorefineries. Differing scales of communities on the West Coast of Scotland (small on the Isle of Eigg, medium in Orkney, large in Campbeltown) would support the fuel demands of remote and rural communities and provide the socio-economic benefits generated by a new industry, generating fuel, fertilizer and bioplastics.
Floating algae biofuel farms along coastlines
Production Landscape for Warm Coastal Areas of the World. The offshore algae cell farm powers the city nearby and its by-products benefit onshore agriculture. In daytime, rings of floating hydrogen producing algae cells, growing Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, produce electricity and are inflated by gases. At night, the gases inflate onshore greenhouses as heat for plants inside. The offshore algae farm is the energy generator for the larger development of the onshore farmland. As the energy demands onshore increase, the offshore algae cells will proliferate to increase the energy supply.
Automated Bloom: Bio-Farming in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana. This self-replicating floating algae farm is composed of robotic bio-plastic photo-bioreactor tubes in hexagons. The PBR tubes’ algal processes run through an automated network controlled by fluidic switches and actuators—a modulated series of closed feedback loops. The project will oxygenate dead zones in the Gulf, utilizing the Mississippi River’s heavy loads of nitrogen and phosphorous and capturing CO2 emissions from processing plants in Texas and Louisiana.
Capturing and reusing CO2 emissions in transport networks
Asteriofuel Algae Fuel Stations in Urban Areas like Barcelona Spain. The AsterioFuel network of geodesic domes, replicating the pattern of diatoms, is designed for cities interested in absorbing CO2 emissions and producing renewable fuels. The domes absorb CO2, grow diatom algae (asterionella formosa) to provide energy to the vehicles and offer shade covering for pedestrians in public spaces. The most suitable road system to spread the AsterioFuel network in Barcelona are the two main lanes that embrace the city by the sea and the mountains called the “Rondas”.
Green Miles. I-40 near Knoxville, Tennessee. Green Miles uses the negative outputs of gasoline as catalysts for bio-fueled transportation, relying on coniferous trees and algae. The goals are threefold: to offset daily and accumulated atmospheric carbon emissions, to recharge aquifers with water not polluted from highway runoff, and to provide a source of biofuel for an emerging system. The project begins with planting thousands of trees in the unused, “in-between” spaces of the site and the installation of an algae bioreactor system onto the side of the existing interstate infrastructure.
Emerging Themes, Schemes and Dreams in Algae Landscape and Architecture Designs
Coming up Part 5:
- 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