London's ecoLogicStudio has demonstrated a full-scale prototype of its urban algae canopy at the "Feeding the Planet" expo in Milan. This "bio-digital" structure sees fluid filled with microalgae organisms pumped around an otherwise transparent shelter to produce dynamic shade, energy in the form of biomass, and an impressive amount of oxygen, while responding to the presence of visitors to produce interesting visual effects.
When it's sunny, the microalgae naturally photosynthesize and grow, turning the fluid a deeper shade of green and providing extra shade when it's needed.
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The canopy is currently being demonstrated as a small installation, but the plan is to scale it up for Expo Milano 2015's Future Food District. the larger installation will produce as much oxygen as four hectares of woodland, along with 150 kg of biomass, 80 percent of which will be natural vegetal proteins.
The system responds to the presence of visitors – as people walk through each area of the canopy, they trigger electro valves that alter the speed at which the algae flows through the canopy.
As ecoLogicStudio puts it: "We believe that it is now time to overcome the segregation between technology and nature typical of the mechanical age, to embrace a systemic understanding of architecture. In this prototype the boundaries between the material, spatial and technological dimensions have been carefully articulated to achieve efficiency, resilience and beauty."
Check out the small demonstration unit in action in the video below.