Copyright 2020 © The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
This research explores the structural, spatial, and expressive potential of green macroalgae as a multi-material fabrication system. The research deals with the specific type of algae classified as ‘green macroalgae’ which can become a marine hazard through blooms and yet has the potential to be exploited as a resource. Through rigorous material testing and research, a lightweight, rigid component was created from compressing and curing green macroalgae. Using this material to drive a design approach, the project proposes an ecovillage to be located in an existing village township in Ningbo, China. The ecovillage will serve as a link between the villages within the township, encouraging interaction between residents and visitors and activating the existing landscape through a component-based architecture system. Baiyucun township and its residents are surrounded by an abundance of this algae. The proposed architecture questions the existing relationship with the material and proposes alternative uses, exploiting algae as building material that can engage with structure, light, and inhabitation.
A visualisation of the material ecologies of red and green algae.
The positive and negative economic and environmental impacts of algae are connected to its physical attributes and growth rate.
A series of physical tests of algae sheets with different mixtures and visual properties.
A series of physical prototypes test algae blocks with different mixtures and visual physical properties.
A series of compression blocks of algae and material mixtures, testing variegation and textural properties.
Varying proportions of algae and clay mix in block form.
A digital simulation exploring combinations of three variegated algae blocks in spatial aggregations.
A digital simulation exploring combinations of four variegated algae blocks in spatial aggregations.
A visualisation of the topological optimisation of material distribution in algae block formations using variegated blocks.