Lee Xue Qi
The Algae Symbiosis
Thesis Supervisor: A/P Tan Shee Tiong
Site: Sanya, Hainan Island, China
With the ever increasing amount of pollution emitted, a global effort to combat climate change has been implemented to slow down the effects of climate change and global warming. Given that construction industries are one of the highest contributors to carbon emissions, sustainable design strategies are implemented architecturally in an effort to combat climate change. However, such efforts are often only enough to ensure that no additional harm is being done to the environment, maintaining status quo on climate change.
An effect of climate change is the recent algae bloom which has caused much controversy in recent years, growing out of control and killing thousands of fishes and other marine animals. Algae however, possesses various benefits, including absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, producing biofuel, purifying wastewaters, and as a source of food.
Could it then be possible that instead of trying to control algae growth and live apart from it, one can now embrace its growth and live harmoniously with algae by deriving the benefits from it?
Situated on the tropical island of Hainan in China, Sanya is China’s 12th free trade zone steered towards green technology. The government intends to upgrade the existing industrial park at Yalong Bay area into an innovation park, and aims to become a technological hub to attract more businesses and talents to live and work in the city. There is thus a demand for a talent housing community, aimed at providing subsidised housing to attract young talents.
However, developing an innovation park would mean the development of more urban landscapes, forgoing Sanya’s naturally occuring mountainous and river landscapes. This would also mean that it would lack large water bodies for the cultivation of algae.As such, a multi-layer approach is taken, where an artificial river landscape is first introduced into the site, mimicking the river network that algae naturally thrives in. Other aspects of the talent community are then added, such as the co-working spaces and residential areas, all fitted with algae panels or dedicated spaces for algae cultivation.
River streams form the main mode of transportation, with the use of paddleboats to navigate around the community, reducing the need for cars which could potentially pollute the environment. These paddleboats also help to regulate the flow of the river to encourage algae growth.
Co-working spaces are covered with algae panels on the facade to be differentiated from the residential blocks where the users can determine which algae panels should be cultivated, indirectly creating a dynamic facade design.