Architecture

Urban Algae Canopy will generate a 4-hectare forest's worth of oxygen

Urban Algae Canopy will genera...
The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
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The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
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The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
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The larger bio-digital urban algae canopy planned for Expo Milan 2015.
Microalgae in the water pumped through the translucent structure turns green in harsh sunlight due to photosynthesis.
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Microalgae in the water pumped through the translucent structure turns green in harsh sunlight due to photosynthesis.
Urban algae canopy: photosynthesis provides extra shade on sunny days while allowing light through when it's overcast.
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Urban algae canopy: photosynthesis provides extra shade on sunny days while allowing light through when it's overcast.
A series of tubes pumps the microalgae fluid around to the panels.
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A series of tubes pumps the microalgae fluid around to the panels.
A series of tubes pumps the microalgae fluid around to the panels.
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A series of tubes pumps the microalgae fluid around to the panels.
"The exceptional properties of microalgae organisms are enhanced by their cultivation within a custom designed 3 layers ETFE cladding system."
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"The exceptional properties of microalgae organisms are enhanced by their cultivation within a custom designed 3 layers ETFE cladding system."
"A special CNC welding technology is at the core of it and enables ecoLogicStudio to design and control the morphology of the cushions under stress as well as the fluid dynamic behaviour of the water medium as it travels through it."
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"A special CNC welding technology is at the core of it and enables ecoLogicStudio to design and control the morphology of the cushions under stress as well as the fluid dynamic behaviour of the water medium as it travels through it."
"A special CNC welding technology is at the core of it and enables ecoLogicStudio to design and control the morphology of the cushions under stress as well as the fluid dynamic behaviour of the water medium as it travels through it."
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"A special CNC welding technology is at the core of it and enables ecoLogicStudio to design and control the morphology of the cushions under stress as well as the fluid dynamic behaviour of the water medium as it travels through it."
Urban Algae Canopy prototype in Milan
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Urban Algae Canopy prototype in Milan
The algae's natural tint produces some interesting light effects. Or, to some, it might just look a bit mouldy.
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The algae's natural tint produces some interesting light effects. Or, to some, it might just look a bit mouldy.
Demonstration canopy at "Feeding new ideas for the city" event in Milan
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Demonstration canopy at "Feeding new ideas for the city" event in Milan
Demonstration canopy at "Feeding new ideas for the city" event in Milan
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Demonstration canopy at "Feeding new ideas for the city" event in Milan
"The flows of energy, water and CO2 are therefore regulated to respond and adjust to weather patterns and visitors' movements. As the sun shines more intensively algae would photosynthesise and grow thus reducing the transparency of the canopy and increasing its shading potential; since this process is driven by the biology of mico-algae is inherently responsive and adaptive; visitors will benefit from this natural shading property while being able to influence it in real-time; their presence will trigger electro valves to alter the speed of algal flow through the canopy provoking an emergent differentiation across the space."
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"The flows of energy, water and CO2 are therefore regulated to respond and adjust to weather patterns and visitors' movements. As the sun shines more intensively algae would photosynthesise and grow thus reducing the transparency of the canopy and increasing its shading potential; since this process is driven by the biology of mico-algae is inherently responsive and adaptive; visitors will benefit from this natural shading property while being able to influence it in real-time; their presence will trigger electro valves to alter the speed of algal flow through the canopy provoking an emergent differentiation across the space."

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.

Urban Algae Canopy prototype in Milan
Urban Algae Canopy prototype in Milan

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.

"The exceptional properties of microalgae organisms are enhanced by their cultivation within a custom designed 3 layers ETFE cladding system."
"The exceptional properties of microalgae organisms are enhanced by their cultivation within a custom designed 3 layers ETFE cladding system."

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.

Source: ecoLogicStudio

BioCanopy EXPO - Urban Algae Canopy

3 comments
lat1865
I wonder could the addition of bio-luminescent life make beautiful night lit sidewalk and park pathways. Don't suppose they could last thru a winter.
Stephen N Russell
Build some here: Mex City Mex Tokyo Osaka LA CA Kobe Shanghai China Hong Kong Lima Moscow Berlin Odessa NYC & replicate citywide.;
JoejustJoe
Great idea and the system will gather lots of thermal energy as well that can be extracted from the algae water for heating indoors, plumbing water and or electricity production.