Ecological Research and Algae Monitoring Facility – Christopher Christophi

Today we have a project trying to use Venice’s unique setting to its advantage, reminds us of last year’s work by BAM! Studio.  The project tapes into Venice’s ever growing problem of of benevolent invasive macro algae growth.  The proposed design is to create a facility for the new proposed biodiesel facilities to utilize the algae growth has a natural source of fuel to create energy for parts of Venice. 

SCHOOL: Leicester School of Architecture, DMU
STUDENT: Christopher Christophi 
YEAR: 2011

“Over recent years Venice’s pressures from both the nearing completion of the MOSE flood gates and the ever growing problem of benevolent invasive macro algae growth, ‘Undaria pinnatifida’, has meant that the Italian Government has  become aware that Venice is not immune from these problems. In March 2009 the Italian Government announced that a £200m bio-fuel project is to be created (for approval) to convert the invasive macro algae into bio-fuels to generate electricity for part of Venice. The project design therefore intends to provide facilities that will support both of these projects.

The project is located on the North side of Venice’s Arsenale, an area which had once boasted Venice’s naval defensive power, now lies derelict and separated from the thriving south areas alongside experiencing a high level of algae growth. The project intends revive the area by inhabiting three of the derelict warehouses which face out onto the lagoon. Within the existing brick warehouse the lagoon monitoring facility consisting of laboratories and writing rooms will be housed within separate laboratories, which will stand detached. These laboratories will monitor the welfare of the lagoon and be supported by small monitoring structures around the lagoon. The ground floor will also consist of exhibition facilities to link it in with the Venice Biennale on the south of the Arsenale, as well as educational and lecturing facilities to inform the public and locals on how to safeguard the Lagoon.

Walkways will project themselves out from the warehouses and into the lagoon, attaching at points to the surrounding historical defensive wall formed around the Arsenale. These will connect to three laboratory towers, which will create a new layer of defence, that will be representative of its aim to protect Venice and its lagoon against its new problems.

Within this area the macro algae facility will monitor the macro algae’s rate of growth using mechanically operated cultivation frames, which will be controlled and investigated in separate laboratories. The Macro algae will also be cultivated and collected for experimental sampling as well as provide enough algae for the bio-fuel plant to be operated all year round.

These towers will stand alive, living symbiotically with its environment. By using what once was an invasive material to drive the architecture and the success of the projects programme will allow for more site specific architecture. The local living materials will create an interactive building which will evolve throughout the year reflecting the changing state of the lagoon and the Venetian climate.”

                                                                          – CHRISTOPHER CHRISTOPHI

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