For many, the future floats. Seasteaders, BIG’s floating city, the “Danish silicon valley” (at sea, naturally): in a time of rising tides, many are suggesting working with, or on, the ocean rather than against it. Add the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab to the list. The 13-foot-by-8-foot object was designed by architects and designers Adam Marcus, Margaret Ikeda, and Evan Jones as a prototypical "island" that demonstrates not just an understanding of marine ecology, but also digital design and fabrication techniques. And, not just a Band-Aid approach, it actively protects coastal communities from the brunt of rising seas by dispersing the energy of oncoming waves. The Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab is the result of a collaboration between California College of the Art’s architecture school and students in the Architectural Ecologies Lab (AEL), along with scientists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Benthic Lab. Fabrication support was supplied by Kreysler & Associates. The AEL was founded in 2018, as Ikeda told Hyperallergic, “a research lab that could link speculative architectural thinking with real-world prototyping and scientific expertise,” and go beyond academic borders. Intended as a “new kind of resilient coastal infrastructure,” the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab is the result of multiple years of research into new composites and new forms for ecologically-sound architectures. One of the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab’s key innovations is its fiber-reinforced polymer composite substrate. The “ecologically optimized” material can be digitally formed into varied contours—“underwater topographies”—that encourage the settlement of invertebrate animals that “contribute to the biological diversity of the marine ecology.” Using peaks and valleys on both sides of the structure—produced in two identical halves to minimize the waste of producing custom molds—of varying sizes, the Lab features “fish apartments” supplied by nutrients from plankton and other invertebrates that are carried along by flowing water. Not only does this process and living space for marine animals increase biodiversity, but the biological growth it facilitates also has the added effect of “attenuat[ing] wave action and reduc[ing] coastal erosion.” Thinking ahead, the Lab has scouted out additional locations to attach more prototypes, including future versions of structures made from the same unique composite, designed to further enhance wave attenuation, or reduce the intensity of waves acting on it. The Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab will be deployed in San Francisco Bay this year.
Posts tagged with "Floating Architecture":
The UN has just unveiled a floating city. Or, at least a framework for how floating cities will be built. Throughout the 2010s, a certain set of statistics found their way into every article about urbanism. You know them. They said that a certain percent of people would live in cities by a certain year; “68% of the world's population projected to live in urban areas by 2050,” according to a recent UN statistic. However, it’s barely the 2010s anymore! The new hot stat for the 2020s was used today by the UN to switch gears and justify exploring the possibility of building floating cities:
By 2030, approximately 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities that are exposed to grave economic, social, and environmental pressures. Further, approximately 90 percent of the largest global cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. Out of the world’s 22 megacities with a population of more than 10 million, 15 are located along the ocean’s coasts.Serious stuff, all discussed at today’s high-level round table in New York hosted by UN-Habitat, the UN’s coalition on affordable and sustainable housing, along with the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, the Explorers Club, and OCEANIX, a group investing in floating cities on this new marine frontier. Bjarke Ingels of BIG—architects of the "Dryline" around lower Manhattan—unveiled his design for a prototypical floating city today, which would be made out of mass timber and bamboo. This proposal would be “flood proof, earthquake-proof, and tsunami-proof,” according to Marc Collins Chen, co-Founder and CEO of OCEANIX. The renderings show a series of modular hexagonal islands with a productive landscape, where bamboo grown on the “islands” could be used to make glulam beams. BIG envisions the cities as zero-waste, energy-positive and self-sustaining. The necessary food to feed the population would be grown on the islands. BIG has put toether a kit of parts for each part of the man-made ecosystem: a food kit of parts, a waste kit of parts. Each island would be prefabricated onshore and towed to its location in the archipelago. What would living on one of these islands be like? "All of the aspects of human life would be accommodated," according to Ingels. They would dedicate seven islands to public life, including a spiritual center, a cultural center, and a recreation center. "It won't be like Waterworld. Its another form of human habitat that can grow with its success." Oceanix City, as it is called, features mid-rise housing around a shared, green public space where agriculture and recreation co-exist. Underground greenhouses are embedded in the “hull” of the floating city, while in the sky, drones would buzz by with abandon. The systems on each city would be connected, where waste, food, water, and mobility are connected. Because the cities are towable, they can be moved in the event of a weather event. Land reclamation (creating new land by pouring sand in the ocean) is no longer seen as sustainable, as it uses precious sand resources and causes coastal areas to lose protective wetlands and mangroves. Could floating cities be the way forward for expanding our cities as we deal with the consequences of climate change and sea-level rise? According to the coalition, “Sustainable Floating Cities offer a clean slate to rethink how we build, live, work, and play…They are about building a thriving community of people who care about the planet and every life form on it.” Doesn't this sound a lot like the Seasteading Institute, the infamous group of libertarian utopianists who want to break away from land and society altogether? For Collins, his floating infrastructure is less ideological, and more about infrastructure technology. These floating cities would be positioned near protected coastal areas, less ocean-faring pirate states and more extensions of areas threatened by rising sea levels. "These cities have to be accessible to everyone. We can't build broad support for this without populist thinking," said Richard Wiese, the president of the Explorers Club. The first prototypes will start small, even though they are thinking big. The 4.5-acre pods will house 300 people, while the goal is to scale the system by repeating the unit until the city can hold 10,000 people. Can floating cities be more sustainable and affordable than building on land? Would they only be for the rich? Would they be self-sufficient? Would they prevent climate gentrification and curb climate migration? Or, as has been the case in the past, will the idea prove too expensive to actually build?
Don’t count out Louis Kahn’s floating concert hall just yet. The 42-year-old Point Counterpoint II has found a new life in Florida, only a year after fears were raised that the boat might have to be scuttled. Although the speed of the 195-foot-long, 38-foot-wide boat tops out at a measly six to eight knots, the seagoing vessel has still managed to perform all over the world. The Point Counterpoint II lies flat, a stark departure from Kahn’s distinctive use of striking geometric forms in his buildings, but also includes a hydraulic-powered steel cover capable of rising 25 feet into the air, topping the barge with a center stage. The American Wind Symphony Orchestra (AWSO), founded in 1957 by Robert Austin Boudreau, has called Kahn’s maritime arts center home since 1976. Kahn and Boudreau were personal friends and discussed replacing the first Point Counterpoint (a repurposed barge incapable of independent movement) throughout the 1960s. The resulting Point Counterpoint II, designed by Kahn, eventually set sail in 1976 for a 76-city tour as excitement for the Bicentennial was reaching a fever pitch—two years after Kahn’s death in 1974. By AWSO’s 2017 tour, 91-year-old Boudreau had been looking to step down as director for some time, and without a successor lined up, he put the boat on the market. Following a bidding war to lure the boat to a new permanent home between the city of Kingston in upstate New York and a private entity in Florida, the concert hall went to the latter and has since been brought to Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. Boudreau blames the high cost of towing the boat up to the Great Lakes to get to Kingston in part for his selection of the Florida bidder, claiming that it would have cost over a $100,000 to comply with the Coast Guard’s regulations. In Boudreau’s view, if the boat isn’t serving the community, it might as well be scrapped. That’s part of the reason that Point Counterpoint II will become a center for music education for local children, including those from Pahokee, one of the poorest communities in Florida. For Boudreau, who grew up on a chicken farm in Massachusetts during the Great Depression, a music scholarship was his ticket to college, and now he hopes to guide hundreds of students out of poverty and into college through music in much the same way. But maintaining the educational programming aboard Point Counterpoint II will require fundraising. This year, Boudreau has pledged $50,000 from his own pocket to kickstart an endowment. He acknowledges that he won’t be around forever, and so the maestro is looking to raise $1 million to make sure that Point Counterpoint II will continue to live on as a public institution.
Covering more than 753,000 square feet, a floating dock is set to transform Italy’s Lake Iseo, covering it in a shimmering dahlia-yellow fabric consisting of 200,000 high-density polyethylene cubes. The man behind the scheme is Bulgarian artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff. Eleven years after he worked alongside his late wife Jeanne-Claude in Central Park, Christo is once again ready to dazzle audiences. His solo project, known as The Floating Piers, is located 50 miles Northeast of Milan and will support visitors from June 18 - June 3 this year. Resting on Lake Iseo's surface, the 200,000 polyethylene cubes will undulate in the waves as they connect the towns of Sulzano and Monte Isola with the island of San Paolo. Encircling the island, the piers will have a width of 52 feet and stretch just under two miles across the lake. The piers will also be overlaid with 807,300 square feet of yellow fabric. Sewn into the cubes, the fabric echoes the pigments of the roof tiles seen on the buildings surrounding Lake Iseo. Here, it will continue its journey from the lake, setting a mile-long course through the pedestrian streets of Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio. Since his Central Park park installation in 2005, which saw 7,500 gates of saffron-colored panels line the park's walkways, The Floating Piers will be the first project completed since his wife's passing in 2009. Back then he described his work as “a golden river appearing and disappearing through the branches of the trees.” This year, another river, though this time orange, will run through Christo's location of choice. As was the case in New York, and indeed all his projects, The Floating Piers will be gather funding solely through selling his own original works of art. “They will feel the movement of the water under foot,” Christo said in the New York Times. “It will be very sexy, a bit like walking on a water bed.” Once the 16-day exhibition is over, all components used in the installation will be removed and industrially recycled.
Sub-aquatic colonization is as alien as inhabiting Mars, yet both topics trend in the design world. Some designers believe residing in the deep sea would resolve crises over food, energy, water, and carbon dioxide. Here are six proposals for subaquatic cities, some of which are being realized, despite resembling post-apocalyptic films.
AequoreaBelgian architect Vincent Callebaut has revealed ambitious plans for Aequorea, a series of self-sufficient floating villages constructed of recycled plastics from the Great Pacific garbage patch. Each jellyfish-like eco-village would spiral down to the sea floor—forming 250-floor "oceanscrapers"—and house up to 20,000 people. The 250 floors would contain science labs, offices, hotels, sports fields, and farms. Micro-algae would grow in the aquatic walls, and the villages would operate on algae fuel or hydrocarbons. According to Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the objective of Aequorea's residents would be to "explore the abyssal zones in a respectful way, in order to speed innovation and to democratize new renewable energies – by definition inexhaustible – massively." See the Aequorea project page here.
LilypadCallebaut also designed Lilypad, a floating city that could house 50,000 people. The proposed city's form mimics the intensely ribbed Victoria water lily. An artificial lagoon would lie in the center, surrounded by three marinas and three mountains. These ribs would house work, shopping, and entertainment, while food and biomass would be produced below the water line. Callebaut hopes for Lilypad to be built by 2100. See the Lilypad project page here.
The Ocean SpiralThe Ocean Spiral, an underwater metropolis proposed by Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp, would drive energy from the seabed and house up to 5,000 people. Homes, businesses, and hotels would reside in a sphere 1,640 feet in diameter and connect to a 9-mile spiral that extends to a submarine port and factory. Ocean Spiral would use micro-organisms to turn carbon dioxide into methane. According to Shimizu Corp, the project is being researched by Tokyo University, Japanese government ministries, and energy firms. Shimizu Corp believes the necessary technology will be available in 15 years and construction would take five. See the Ocean Spiral project page here.
Sub Biosphere 2London based design consultant, Phil Pauley, designed Sub Biosphere 2, a network of biomes to house 100 people below water. The center biome would rise 400 feet above water, submerge 20 feet below water, and regulate fresh air, water, food, electricity, and atmospheric pressure. The surrounding biomes would split ten stories above water and ten below. Residents would live off hydroponic crops, grown in the biome seed bank. See Phil Pauley's webpage here.
Floating CityChinese construction firm, CCCC-FHDI, commissioned England and China based firm, AT Design Office, to design a four-square-mile floating city utilizing the technologies CCCC-FHDI is using to build a 31 mile bridge between Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhunai. AT Design Office proposes prefabricated hexagons connected by underwater tunnels. The hexagons would contain residential, commercial and cultural facilities. All residences would have ocean scenery from every direction. The top of each block would have a club, while the bottom would contain an equipment room and a gravity regulation system. Architect Slavomir Siska said, "China Transport Investment is reviewing the proposal and is likely to start to test this ambitious project from a smaller scale next year." See AT Design Office's webpage here.
The City of MériensThis 3,000-foot-long, 1,600-foot-wide manta ray is actually a floating university campus, called the City of Mériens. French Architect Jacques Rougerie designed the city to accommodate 7,000 academics for research and education. The city contains classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, residences, and recreation, which would all run on renewable marine energy to produce zero waste. Rougerie told Weather.com, "I designed the City of Mériens in the form of a manta ray because it was the best design to accommodate such a community with regards [to] the best possible correlation between space and stability needs." The manta ray form is to counteract turbulence, while the descended structure is to maintain steadiness—rising 200 feet above water and 400 feet below. See Jacques Rougerie Architecte's webpage here. Although these ambitious proposals and renderings can be mistaken for science-fiction, organizations are seriously investing in their research and implementation. Maybe we will see smaller scale aquatic cities in our lifetime, but in the meantime, here is Kevin Costner's Water World:
Are floating houses the answer to London's housing crisis? 100 ideas for affordable housing to be showcased
Affordable housing is a hot-topic in Europe and across the world right now. To look for solutions, New London Architecture (NLA) launched a competition prompting architects, planners and citizens to submit ideas for the current housing crisis in London—and the entries are in. The competition attracted over 200 submissions from over 16 countries and NLA has released a list of 100 of the submitted schemes which include radical concepts from NBBJ, Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners, and Grimshaw Architects, among others. Seattle-based NBBJ has proposed taking up 9,000 miles of London road to make way for residential housing whereas London practice dRMM advocate the implementation of floating houses. Infact dRMM weren't the only firm to take advantage of London's waterways. Baca Architects and the appropriately named, Floating Homes Ltd. suggested installing 7,500 prefab floating homes along the canal routes of London, something they say could be done in under a year. Floating architecture, it appears, is a powerful force in captivating the imaginations of architects. The competition hasn't just attracted architects however, property consultants GL Hearn propose constructing a megacity by the M25 highway that travels London to improve housing, retail, workspaces, and infrastructure links by 2050.Building firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff says 630,000 new homes would be created by building housing on top of government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and libraries.
The list of 100 will be whittled down by the NLA to a select group of 10 which will be considered in further depth before an eventual winner is chosen. The 100 projects will go on display in London on Saturday 17th October.
In an effort to reduce the cost of housing even further, this prefabricated home proposal ditches the cost of a traditional lot entirely. The houseby UK-based Carl Turner Architects doesn't need one—it floats. Essentially a rubber-coated timber box nestled on a 65-foot-by-22-foot flood-proofing concrete tray, the home is outfitted with amenities for total self-sustenance just like a houseboat on open waters. Affixed to the interior is a pair of semi-translucent solar panels measuring 904 square feet, while a rooftop rainwater-harvesting tank—next to the crow’s nest on the rooftop balcony-cum-garden, of course—satisfies all non-drinkable water needs. Inside, meanwhile, the timber walls are bolstered with thick rubber insulation, while the triple-glazed windows keep inhabitants toasty. Space-wise, there is nothing makeshift about this home. The living quarters, contained within a 45-foot-by-16-foot cross-laminated timber frame, consist of two bedrooms, a study, a bathroom, living room, and kitchen. While the tray beneath the house is buoyant (though non-movable), the house is designed to be amphibian: when constructed on land, the base disappears; when assembled on a floodplain, it can be buttressed by stilts or a non-floating, flood-resistant thick concrete base. Like the prefab, the component parts of Floating House can be conveyed to the site by lorry or barge and simply lifted into position. Designed to confront a recent uptick in flood incidents in London, Carl Turner Architects debuted Floating House via the open-source architecture project, PaperHouse. The firm has promised to upload the blueprints to the site, enabling anyone to download them and build their own buoyant home.
Considering how much trash Baltimore's solar-powered Trash Interceptor scoops out of the city's harbor—50,000 pounds a day!—these floating islands made from found plastic waste might just stand a chance. With the support of the Creative Industries Firm NL, WHIM Architecture is developing a prototype of their project, the recycled island, built primarily from recycled plastic waste gathered from the North Pacific gyre and the North Sea. The prototype seeks to first try out the concept at a small scale by building a floating house surrounded by plants. This “floating villa” will test the durability and practicality of plastic as a building material and be the test that determines whether the recycled island idea is plausible. There are four chief aspects of the prototype island: the platform, the balustrade, the roof, and the external wall. According to information provided by WHIM, the platform will be composed of hollow plastic blocks covered with vegetation while the balustrade will be made of hollow plastic blocks filled with soil to support the aforementioned vegetation. Both the roof and the walls will be made of blocks filled with non-recyclable waste. While the designers are currently working on a prototype island of a smaller size, the actual recycled island would be approximately the size of Hawaii’s main island. This rather sizeable floating island will sit on the Maas River in Rotterdam and act as a station to collect waste before it empties out into the North Sea. The repurposing of plastic waste would then give the litter new economic value and may encourage people to hold onto their trash rather than improperly throw it away. Therefore the recycled island may help combat pollution and waste problems on two fronts: one by collecting waste and building with it and another by discouraging people from littering.
In June a full-block surface parking lot in downtown Flint, Mich. will house a ghostly, floating home — a monument to the ravages of the foreclosure crisis and a nod to the revitalization public art projects like this one hope to further in the one-time home of General Motors. London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, which comes with a $25,000 prize, for their design, Mark’s House. The story of an imagined Flint resident named Mark Hamilton, whose family loses their home to foreclosure, Mark’s House takes the form of a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels and set atop a mirrored pedestal. The structure can hold 1,500 gallons of water to be used for cooling mists for visitors to the structure’s canopy and event stage on hot summer days. The design-build competition, launched last fall by Flint Public Art Project and AIA-Flint, called for a temporary structure that would take up no more than eight parking spaces, and would support public programs in a city whose population peaked in 1960. Flint’s Mayor Dayne Walling hopes the design community will help transform public space in the ailing former industrial town, and international buzz for the competition appears to have been a good start. Organizers said they fielded 221 entries from dozens of countries. Three other projects received honorable mention: Stage a Lot by KSE Studio (Sofia Krimizi and Kyriakos Kyriakou) of Brooklyn, NY; Building Bodies for Work by Wes Janz, Tim Gray, and Andrea Swartz of Ball State University; and AC.H2O by Mike Ting of British Columbia, Canada. These projects and 17 others will populate an exhibit alongside Mark’s House to open April 12 during the Flint Art Walk. The built Mark’s House pavilion will open June 14.
For five months a year Bangladesh endures a monsoon season, suffering from two floods yearly leaving millions of citizens living in river basins stranded without basic necessities. But a non-profit organization founded by an architect based in northern Bangladesh, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, has decided to build flood resistant schools that come to the homes of students. Health care facilities and homes are also being built to float by the non-profit. Local Bangladeshi-architect Mohammed Rezwan founded Shidhulai in 2008. The organization's fleet has grown to 100 boats bringing education, medical necessities, practical farming information, and financial services to families along the river. Rezwan’s organization also offers bicycle-powered pumps, a flood alert system, and solar powered lighting. Solar power technology is also being developed by Shidhulai to help families farm during floods allowing them to feed themselves. This includes fishnets made form bamboo with solar powered duck coops providing fish food in the form of duck manure and beds of hyacinth that can grow vegetables. Every school boat is equipped with internet access, a laptop, and a small library, all specially protected from heavy rainfall and any possible water damage. [Via Fast.Co Design.]