Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
In the Greek city of Thessaloniki, water is a common means of transportation for the public. The Thessaloniki Water Transport system is a set of four piers that serve as pick-up and drop-off points for the ferries. Recently, Giannikis SHOP has proposed a design for each pavilion that will enable each dock to be entirely self-sufficient, as well as incorporating a bizarre water drop aesthetic.
The most prominent, important, and weird feature of the docks is the giant water-like orb that hovers above the docks. At first glance, they appear to be made out of glass or metal, but they are actually inflated balloons made out of BoPET, some kind of super-high-tech polyester film. These ballons are elevated on steel poles, providing shade for the public while giving it unobstructed access to sunlight. Solar energy filters into the orb and collects there, which is then converted into energy to power the facilities of the docks.
Additionally, the docks have funnels designed to collect and store rainwater. This water, combined with the stored solar energy, allows each of the Thessaloniki transportation facilities to be entirely self-sufficient.
These docks will undoubtedly get a lot of intention due to their bizarre design. The BoPET orbs look that way out of necessity, but an interesting coincidence is that they look like giant drops of water or mercury. It’s a fitting design considering that the docks are associated with water, but it still doesn’t make them look any less weird. I wonder how reflective the surface of these BoPET orbs will be, and if they will blind people whenever the sun strikes it a certain angle. Does anybody else find it a bit counterproductive to use a reflective substance as a material for a structure that’s supposed to provide shade?
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
One of the great things about green architecture is that it reclaims unlivable spaces and transforms them into habitats for both people and animals. Hyphae Design Laboratory is pursuing one such project by attempting to transform an old unused limousine storage lot located along the San Francisco Bay into a green space with tons of features.
Humans aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the completion of this project, as the design includes a space for sea lions to lounge in the sun. Additionally, the park will include green houses and living walls, which are literal vertical walls with plant life growing on them.
People will be able to take in these beautiful natural sights during a stroll in this park. Located on San Francisco’s Pier 27, the finished space will include public art, an artificial waterfall, and trendy food joints spread out across 2 levels. The pier is roughly “U” shaped, with 2 long docks extending into the bay. Between the 2 docks, rectangular islands will provide a hang out spot for local sea lions. The sea lion island is prominently on display for people on either pier, so the local marine life will likely become a popular attraction for visitors.
The pier redesign is not entirely focused on green reclamation. It also has a valuable commercial function, as it will serve as a docking station for cruise ships. Overall, the design of this pier is quite impressive because it tries to be many different things, and succeeds fairly well at each of its intended goals. It provides a recreational area for humans while supporting local business and providing habitats for wildlife. This fusion of roles promotes the idea that humans and animals can coexist peacefully, a fundamental principle of green projects.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
We recently discussed architectural recycling options for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and we have also looked into a few underwater skyscraper designs. This next design is a fusion of these two ideas. Designed by Milorad Vidojevic, Jelena Pucarevic, and Milica Pihler, the Lady Landfill Scraper is intended to float around the ocean, collecting garbage to incorporate into its design.
The basic design of the structure was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, which is clearly evident in the plan layout. Essentially, it looks like the Eiffel Tower was flipped on its head and then suspended in the ocean. As the tower drifts through the Pacific Ocean, the lower portions of the tower create a sort of net that captures drifting plastic.
Once enough garbage has been collected, the mass of plastic is transported to the center of the structure, where it is processed and recycled to create fuel. According to the designers, this process would provide enough energy to power the entirety of the structure, resulting in a self-sustaining garbage cleaning device.
The upper levels of the tower support grow zones, where plant life can suck up carbon and provide nests for birds. Additionally, the highest levels would contain the control center and the housing for the human laborers aboard the vessel. This section includes an automatic ballast system that sucks in or expels water to ensure that the vessel remains balanced.
The Lady Landfill Skyscraper is really quite clever. Not only does it do all of its work without requiring external power and resources, but it would start to clean up the Pacific Ocean, a task that would otherwise cost billions of dollars. The LLS would eventually pay itself off by providing a constant source of tradable energy. It cleans, it recycles, it’s self-sufficient, and it provides more living space. It’s really a shame that this design merely received an honorable mention at the 2011 Skyscraper Competition.
Friday, November 25th, 2011
We’ve really begun tapping into the ocean as a source of renewable power, and for good reason. Waves generate power and the surface represents a huge area of untapped “land” for future settlers if we can figure out how to build floating cities. One interesting resource that the ocean provides is the cold temperature from its frigid depths. We spend an incredible amount of energy trying to cool things down, yet the ocean cools down millions of gallons of seawater naturally.
Honolulu is looking to tap into this resource by creating a system that will pump deep seawater up into buildings to keep the hotels and resorts air-conditioned. Lead by the designers at Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, these architects will build pipes that stretch into the ocean. These pipes will pump cold water into the city, and then replace it with the warmer used water. Despite the dramatic temperature change, the warmer recycled seawater will not harm the local aquatic wildlife, thereby dramatically reducing its footprint.
This plan is extremely green compared to the current, standard air conditioning methods that most hotels use. They expect to reduce electricity consumption by as much as 75%, which includes a drastic reduction in carbon emissions and ozone-depleting refrigerants. Altogether, the plan represents a step up in just about every category imaginable. It’s cheaper, greener, and uses a readily accessible resource. This green solution represents a great alternative, because high-powered cooling is a common demand for tropical, sea-side locations. While deep sea cooling unfortunately cannot be utilized efficiently by inland communities, they a perfect for islands such as Hawaii. Hopefully, Honolulu will be the first of many island communities to use seawater cooling.
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Whenever we throw something into the ocean, we tend to think of it as being swallowed by the immensely large and deep ocean. That way of thinking isn’t really accurate because trash that we throw into the ocean always ends up going somewhere. Most trash travels along currents and eventually ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, tons of floating garbage have accumulated to form the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a miles-long stretch of floating garbage that just accumulates and doesn’t go anywhere.
Environmentalists have been working on a way to get rid of all of this junk and put it towards something more productive. Whim Architecture, a Netherlands-based group of architects, has developed a plan to recycle all of this garbage into a literal floating island made of plastic.
They plan on doing this by collecting the plastic and melting it down into building blocks. They would attach the bricks to create enormous chunks of floating land, if “land” is the right word. Once put together, the whole thing would be approximately the size of Hawaii. This garbage island would drift somewhere between Hawaii and San Francisco, and would be available to refuges who have lost their homes due to rising water levels.
The island isn’t really as bad as you might think. I’m sure that you imagine some sort of stinky, ugly mound floating in the ocean, but the pictures are much more optimistic and, well, normal than you’d expect. It’s all quite colorful, with sandy beaches, resorts, and anything you might expect to find on a tropical island. The island would also include stretches of soil where the inhabitants could farm and grow food. The basic idea here is that the island would be entirely self-sufficient.
As neat as the island is, I wonder about how viable it would be to create a giant floating island. I can kind of understand why you’d want to build a floating city, because you could dock the city next to a city when the weather got rough, but islands are, well, gigantic. What would they do during thunderstorms? And what about tsunamis? Are these islands designed to float on the surface of a choppy ocean and weather the storm? It makes me seriously wonder as to the safety of this island. I’d love to see an island like this work, but I wonder if it wouldn’t just end up being a floating death trap.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Article topics on this blog become increasingly over-the-top every day. There’s just something about the ocean that makes people think on an epic scope. I’ve already detailed giant floating skyscrapers and free-floating mega cities. The only thing that could possibly make these designs more absurd is if they were built on the bottom of the ocean.
At least, that’s what designer Phil Pauley envisions with his Sub Biosphere 2. But before we jump into what’s wrong with it, let’s talk about what it does well.
It’s awesome. That much hardly needs to be said. We’ve been imagining a world where the human race could conquer all climates, including moon bases and underwater research labs. So as crazy as this design might be, we want it to succeed. We would love it if this thing could actually be built. Who wouldn’t want to go visit a giant underwater bubble and have picnic beneath swimming fish? I know I’d add that to my bucket list.
Pauley boasts that the Sub Biosphere 2 design enables it to be completely self-sufficient, generating its own food, air, and power. Though, I have to wonder if that feature is included out of ambition or necessity. Sub Biosphere 2 will almost necessarily need to be self-sufficient because, well, the whole thing is underwater. Transporting supplies between the sphere and the surface would be expensive, time consuming, and costly.
That brings me to my major issue with this project. Pauley named the place Sub Biosphere 2. Sound familiar at all? It should, because the design was inspired by Biosphere 2, a self-sustaining biodome in Arizona. It might be neat to take the Biosphere 2 concept and implement it underwater, right? Well, it would be a good idea if not for the fact that Biosphere 2 was widely considered to be a failure. Does anybody else find it a bit unwise to take a failing concept and then retry it on the bottom of the ocean, where the costs and risks will be increased tenfold?
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
One of the things that make water a tricky building material is that it just happens to dramatically change around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you can keep water frozen, it can be an interesting building material – the only real problem is keeping it frozen. Keeping ice frozen in the desert might present a particularly interesting challenge.
That’s a challenge that architects Acht Frankfurt and Ambivalenz ltd. are prepared to accept with Blue Crystal, an ice lodge hotel slated for the desert city of Dubai. While Dubai has gotten into the habit of building absurdly over-the-top structures, this ice hotel might take the cake. On top of it being an ice building in the middle of the desert, it will also be entirely self-sustained.
That’s right; the hotel will use enough energy to keep the hotel frigid, all on its own energy supply. This claim is impressive as it is dubious, as keeping a hotel powered and frozen might not be as easy as the architects envision. It’s particularly odd to hear this claim considering the context. Sustainability is a buzzword now with the environmentalism movement, but the whole point of sustainability is to be efficient and green. With Blue Cyrstal, it sounds like they don’t really care about being green, just about showing off. I couldn’t design a building that shouted “Look at me!” more desperately if I tried.
Nonetheless, the design of Blue Crystal is cool. It resembles the smooth, polished look of free-floating icebergs, and the clear water will undoubtedly shimmer brilliantly in the Dubai sun. Much like an iceberg, Blue Crystal will float in the bay, attached to land by a tether. Inside the lodge, visitors can enjoy underwater lounge, a ballroom, and 6 rooms of entertainment.
It’s all quite impressive, but I feel like the building misses the point. The whole reason why we’re trying to make sustainable buildings is because we want to help the environment. That doesn’t seem like an environmental project; it seems like they’re trying to make it sustainable just because it will impress people, in much the same way that we will be impressed when we hear about an ice lodge in the desert. It’s a bit like driving a super-charged Ferrari through your neighborhood, revving the engine loud enough to make sure everybody looks, and then bragging, “And by the way, it gets 100 miles to the gallon.” At that point, you just sound like a jerk.
Monday, November 21st, 2011
Floating houses are a popular topic here, and understandably so. Many of these floating domiciles attempt to fuse terrestrial stability with aquatic versatility. While buildings like these are certainly interesting, they can create interesting questions regarding transportation. After all, if a house can float away and dock someplace else, is it viable to build roads connecting to it?
Waterstudio.NL is addressing this issue by building floating roads to go along with floating houses. They have developed a floating boulevard design for Antwerp, Belgium that will be able to float while bearing the weight of cars. The boulevard, while useful, is not quite as versatile as you might imagine. The road is not designed to detach and reattach wherever it is needed, like a sort of drawbridge that extends from a floating home. Rather, this boulevard drifts upward and downward with the tide and heavy floods to ensure that the road will always be accessible. The road itself will always remain in a fixed location; it can simply be up to 4 feet higher than its resting position.
This road design opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. For one, the roads are innovative and almost necessary for many northeastern European countries, which are losing land to increasing water levels. Architects are designing many houses and structures to withstand rising water levels, so the transportation system logically needs a matching upgrade.
Perhaps the most important opportunity that the floating boulevard represents, however, is an amazing safety measure for areas that are prone to floods. One of the things that make flooding so dangerous is that the high and fast waters cut off roads. With a floating road, those dangers will be reduced or removed entirely, enabling the local population to evacuate and external aid to quickly reach the flooded area. A structure like this is not only convenient and useful, but potentially lifesaving, as well.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Okeanos Aquascaping is all about fusing architecture with water, and adding a heaping dose of modern style. While aquatic architecture is usually our favorite topic, Kelp Constructs is just way too cool to pass up.
Everybody loves the look and feel of aquariums, with their fresh, aquamarine hue to their vibrant flashes of colors. It’s almost impossible to gaze into an aquarium without wondering what it would be like to live in such a colorful and alien world.
Thanks to artist Julia Lohmann, we don’t have to spend quite as much brain power trying to imagine it. She has created a series of unexpectedly beautiful lamps made out of kelp. Who would have thought seaweed could look this good?
Lohmann dries and rehydrates the kelp before working with it to keep it preserved. This process has a beneficial side effect from an artistic stand point, because this process creates a different effect every time. Because kelp is an organic plant, no two strands of kelp are uniform. Consequently, there will be slight differences in the curl, shape, flexibility, green-ness, and every other aspect of the kelp after it’s processed. Each of these hand-made lamps will be absolutely unique, as it will be literally impossible to recreate an identical lamp.
The finished product is beautiful and strikingly organic. The stuff doesn’t look processed at all. It looks as though somebody pulled kelp directly out of the ocean, artfully stuck a light bulb into it, and then hung it from the ceiling. The light creates a unique glow as it pierces through the thin kelp, reminiscent of many of the bioluminescent creatures in the depths of the ocean.
These kelp lamps add an incredible amount of atmosphere to a room. For aquarium lovers, these lamps hold a unique appeal, as it broadens the feel and aesthetic of an aquarium to incorporate it into an actual living space. With the right furniture and appropriately blue wall paint, these kelp lamps can help create a genuine aquarium room. All we need now is an artsy swimming pool and we can really feel like we’re swimming with the fishes.
Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Architects have made designs to build man-made islands, floating gardens, and shipping container parks. They may as well take it one step further and build artificial tropical reefs. Building a massive underwater forest sounds extremely complicated, but it’s not quite as involved as you might expect. Basically, the people at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control are going to dump garbage into the ocean. Yep – you heard that right. They’re just going to push old New York subway cars into the sea.
It’s not quite as bad as it sounds, as it’s much more like recycling than dumping. The subway cars will encourage the growth of reef, which will attract fish. Aquatic wildlife can’t just attach itself to the sandy sea floor; coral needs a solid and stable surface. The subway cars will provide that. Once the coral begins to grow, fish will begin to arrive and transform the seafloor into a thriving community. It’s a bit similar to dumping dirt and fertilizer in the middle of the desert. To us, those things might seem like trash, but it might be all the region needs to kick start a new community.
And best of all, New York is just giving the cars away for free, so the fish won’t have to spend a single red cent on their new SoHo homes. This project represents a growing trend in combining recycling, green architecture, and the philosophy of building habitats to encourage wildlife growth rather than destroying it. With a bit of creativity, projects like this can strike an environmental note on several levels. Hopefully, architects will be inspired by this movement and find new ways to transform old garbage into new architectural marvels.