Algaemy Factory

Producing Salutogenic Ecology in Yuen Long

Sophia Au Sin Man
MArch thesis 2015

Algaemy Factory uses algae as the primary generator to explore an alternative paradigm for sustainable design. Instead of being one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic climate change and contamination, architecture is rethought as a productive ecology to improve human and environmental health. Algae, a fundamental constituent and omnipresent organism in nature, have attributes with multiple benefits and huge potential for industrial, commercial and cultural appropriation with respect to producing health-creating environments.

Building on the redundant capacity of Yuen Long Sewage Treatment Centre and transforming it, the design integrates algae cultivation with building systems. Architecture is considered less as a systematic machine striving for maximum efficiency, but more as a productive ecology of materials and experiences that can be integrally produced, recycled, transformed and rejuvenated in-situ. The multiple programmes combine algal decontamination with spatial experience and sensory stimulation for visiting urban dwellers, laboratories and offices for scientific researchers, and social enterprises and accommodation for rehabilitating mental patients.

The Public Interaction Zone comprises the entrance hall, experience chambers and exhibition vaults that com­bine algal decontamina­tion with spatial experience and sensory stimulation, ena­bling visiting urban dwellers to convert stress and negative feelings into regenerative opportunities for both visitors (positive energy) and the city (oxygen and ener­gy). In the Knowledge Accumu­lation Zone, the research towers contain laboratories to conduct algae-related experiments (for both scientific and industrial purposes), and research offices and meeting facilities for scientific and ac­ademic knowledge accumu­lation, exchange and dissem­ination. The Work and Production Zones provide facilities such as the production spine and robotic arms for processing and packaging algae prod­ucts as well as crop and fish harvest from surrounding fields and ponds, while also providing work and dormitory accommodation for rehabili­tating mental patients.

Responding to the ‘toxicity’ generated by Hong Kong’s hyperdense urbanism, this thesis proposes an organic, health-gener­ating architecture based on “algaemical production” that generates a self-sustaining, health-creating environment. In addition, referring to Yuen Long’s historical aquacultures, wetland ecology and future regional developments, the project contributes to a re­thinking of place-making through dovetailing the scientification of nature with an ecological­isation of the social realm in a specific context. As such, Algaemy Factory speculates on a future vision of bio-social collective living with nature.

Awards

A&D Trophy Award 2015 Best of Category – Students Architecture  

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