A Defensive Architecture- Nicholas Szczepaniak, University of Westminster

Today’s project is from back in 2009.  A RIBA President’s Medal winner, by Nicholas at the University of Westminster SoA. Designed as a set of defensive structures, withstanding climate change to prevent damage to the landscape.  The structures also act as libraries of human knowledge.
STUDENT: Nicholas Szczepaniak
SCHOOL: University of Westminster
CLASS: Thesis 

This thesis is intended to expose unexpected readings of the built environment in the future if we don’t take more drastic steps to deal with climate change. Set in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, the project envisages a set of militarised coastal defence towers that perform multiple functions:

1. The principle role of the towers is to act as an environmental warning device. The architecture is alive, dramatizing shifts in environmental conditions; breathing, creaking, groaning, sweating and crying when stressed. Air-bags on the face of the towers expand and contract, while hundreds of tensile trunks are sporadically activated, casting water on to the heated facades to produce steam. An empty watchtower at the top of each tower gives them the impression that the fragile landscape below is constantly being surveyed.

2. Across the estuary, a bed of salt marshes provides a natural form of flood defence and habitats for wildlife. Due to rising water levels and adverse weather conditions, the salt marshes are quickly deteriorating. The proposal suggests how megastructures can be integrated and used to encourage the growth of natural defence mechanisms against flooding in order to protect the erosion of fragile coastline areas and our most important cities. Over time, sand is collected at the base of each tower to form a spit across the mouth of the estuary, absorbing energy from the waves.

3. Internally, the towers serve as a vast repository for mankinds most valuable asset; knowledge. The architecture is a knowledge ark, which protects books from culminative and catastrophic deterioration.

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