We live in a world where everyone takes nature for granted. It has become so easy for us to clear acres of forests just to set up an industry. However, there’s still some good left in this world and the Urban Algae Canopy by the ecoLogic studio is a proof of that. If you are wondering what the Urban Algae Canopy is – it is a result of bio-digital architecture that syndicates micro-algal cultures and real time digital cultivation protocols. It was displayed at the Expo Milano back in 2015 – showing the world its true potential. The canopy is able to control the flow of water, energy and carbon dioxide in accordance with weather patterns, visitor’s motion, and various other environmental factors.
A series of tubes pumps the microalgae fluid around to the panels.
So, what’s so great about it? Well, the canopy has the ability to not only produce oxygen equivalent of four hectares of woodland but also 330 pounds of biomass per day. It is a result of six years of research conducted under Future Food District project led by Carlo Ratti Associati.
If we look into the technical details of this canopy, the custom designed ETFE cladding system is made up of three layers which further improve the already exceptional properties of the microalgae organisms. By using the unique CNC welding technology, ecoLogic studio was able to transform the canopy’s morphology and control the dynamic properties of water that flows through the structure, acting as a medium for living organisms.
“The exceptional properties of microalgae organisms are enhanced by their cultivation within a custom designed 3 layers ETFE cladding system.”
God bless whoever thought of merging biology and technology together because it has only produced miracles! As the sun shines over the canopy, algae are able to harness this solar energy to photosynthesise, which in turn increases the density of the canopy – leading to more shade.
Microalgae in the water pumped through the translucent structure turns green in harsh sunlight due to photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis provides extra shade on sunny days while allowing light through when it’s overcast.
Moving on, the concept offers immense flexibility and control. I mean, the transparency, shading potential and colour of the canopy depends on the interaction between climate, digital control systems, visitors and micro-algae. Thus, making the canopy responsive i.e. the visitors alter the building’s behaviour in real time.
Claudia Pasquero of ecoLogic studio said 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.”
The success of the Urban Algae Canopy suggests that subjects should no longer be treated uniquely as the answers lie within the fusion of all disciplines.