The project ‘BioBreathe’ proposes an innovative way to integrate biogas technology into mobile architecture, in order to encourage the use of renewable energy in households and educate the public about waste removal alternatives. The biomachine consists of curved wood panels with detailed cuts acting as skin, which will move along with the naturally contracting and expanding movements of anaerobic digestion, simulating the chest movement of breath in and out. It functions as a portable unit which can be assembled anywhere to transform waste collected into energy.
Anaerobic digestion occurs naturally, in the absence of oxygen, as bacteria break down organic materials and produce biogas. The process reduces the amount of material and produces biogas effectively, which can be used as an energy source. It is relatively cheap compared to other sustainable energy and easy to set up even in domestic settings. A household biogas plant is approximately 1000 pounds which can provide adequate daily cooking gas and fertilizers to a family. With simple operation and distinct output, it will surely increase awareness of the novel sustainable solutions.
The expandable skin is first experimented with paper models, then tested on thin plywood sheets in the fabrication lab at school. Being a postgraduate student in the University of Westminster, it will be a precious experience to build and publicize my own design. It will be a showcase for sustainable architecture that gathers talented design students to join the team of fabricating the structure.
The machine is initiated by inserting waste into the digester , gas created will go through a gas pressure mechanism and active filter, then released by a gas pipe to provide energy for a burning flame. The wood skin follows the movement of the gas holder, expanding when more gas is collected, vice versa. The structure is scalable, which can be developed into a larger plant to provide energy for communities.
To increase engagement of the community, BioBreathe is proposed to be built at the Old Oak Common Railway Station, which will offer unrivalled connectivity to the high speed two railway. The expected high flow of circulation will furthermore promote the project and impact the society.
Modular Inflatable Air Purifying Structure
BIO-bubble is a modular, inflatable, air purifying structure. It comprises of recycled, 3D printed bio-plastic tubes, with ETFE pillows cushioned between. The tubes act as microalgae bio-reactors, which are encased within a second tube which keeps air circulating to the recycled ETFE cushions.
Majority of the structure is air, water, and air-purifying microalgae, creating an efficient, ecological bio structure.
The structure comprises of inter-connecting modules which can have different functions. They can act as an inflatable structure that people can walk through, and kids can play inside. The modules can also act as a greenhouse, with the dark, water-filled base acting as a heat sink. The heat stored during the day from solar energy is released at night to maintain a warm environment for the plants within.
It is a showcase for sustainable novel design solutions, which is accessible to public.
Because the structure is so lightweight, it can be assembled easily in any location, allowing different local communities to interact with it. The lightness of the structure means it has a low in embodied carbon and minimizes emissions associated with transportation, installation and dismantling. It can also be scaled up or down.
The microalgae growing within the structure can be harvested to be used for various bio-materials or bio-fuel.
SCOBY Bio-Leather as an alternative to single use plastics.
Regenerative Urban Arcology
An attempt to reconnect people in the city with nature and the process of growing our own food while adopting alternative sustainable construction methods through a modular mycelium approach.
Is waste the future?
With climate change and the world turning to new sustainable alternatives of producing energy and recycling materials, we as designers should be thinking of new ways of reusing waste and using resources available to us. Human waste has many uses and should not just be flushed down the toilet and sent away to the sewers. It should be returned back to the soil with all it’s nutrients to help grow food, instead of the use of chemical fertilisers.
Both urine and faeces are useful resources in their own ways but have to be separated out. I have designed a toilet and system which splits the two.
Human excrement if kept in anaerobic conditions in a sealed container will start to produce methane. The higher the temperature, the faster the material decomposes, and the higher the rate of production of methane gas. This methane can be used as an energy source.
Urine can be diluted to make a natural fertiliser which should be applied directly to the root system of the plant. It is best to do this immediately or within 24 hours to ensure that ammonia is not released which causes it to smell. However animals will be able to detect the smell and hence it acts as a natural animal repellent.
Urine fertiliser is particularly beneficial for plants which require a lot of nitrogen to grow like tomato plants.
I was inspired by the unusual, striking form and scale of the baobab trees, native to Africa. They are sometimes referred to as “the upside down tree”. They swell up drawing in all the water they can, storing it inside their trunk like a water tank, to ensure they will survive in the dry months.
I explored ways of achieving this swelling geometry on Grasshopper, and used the plugin called Fattener to grow the shape in different areas, controlled by separate parameters.
I then unravelled this radial shape, and tested other options to see which one received the most sunlight all year round.
The toilet pods needed to have the right balance between privacy for the users, and receiving the most sunlight for the tomatoes. I used expressions on Grasshopper to cull the faces of the mesh in a certain way to make sure the parts of the pods that you could see into were made from timber, and the other parts would be made from bio-polycarbonate to let in sunlight for the tomatoes.
Instead of this stepped geometry achieved from culling faces, I added veining with the new Rhino 7 multipipe tool and separated the geometry this way.
Using the plugin Anemone with Grasshopper, I analysed the how the rain would fall on the pods and the overhang to collect rainwater to mix with the urine to then fertilise the tomato plants.
HORTICULTURAL HERITAGE, INHABITED
Plant rich diets & agroforestry are methods to reverse global warming from Drawdown. This project returns Plant Trade heritage to Docklands through Wardian Terrariums, self-sustaining microclimates that aid plant growth from all hemispheres. Fruit, veg & herbs are home grown within high-rise greenspaces. Inspired by the photosynthetic properties of coral, the buildings plants grow symbiotically with controlled levels of sunlight, energy, temperature & moisture.
SITE: DOCKLANDS, LONDON
Rotherhithe has been selected as the site for brief 1, with Beckton as the site for brief 2. Both sites are located in Docklands.
Rotherhithe, South west London, is currently under planning with proposals to build a multi-use housing development around the gasometer. In 2019, the Rotherhithe Gas Holder company opened a temporary Hub to receive resident feedback for the planned development. Lots of feedback was in relation to the heritage of Rotherhithe, with residents requesting the history of the site is maintained and celebrated.
The name ‘Rotherhithe’ derived from the Latin translation of ‘Landing place’, as it was part of the Docklands trade, with raw materials and goods being imported to the site via ships from around the world. The proposed artefact re-creates native climates from all hemispheres for native & imported plants that grow herbs, fruits, spices and botanicals.
Rotherhithe Warehouse, 1960
THE CLIMATE CRISIS: CORAL REGENERATION
Taking inspiration from the death of a coral skeleton after bleaching, the artefact is based on a replicated ‘mesh’ aspect of strong and resilliant branching coral.
Taking the resillience of a coral mesh, I have experimented on Grasshopper with different methods of creating the initial design concepts of my artefact. The mesh will act as a supportive shell, with plants integrated throughout.
MESH TO STRUCTURE
The Grasshopper experiments are transformed into various containers based on the concept of Wardian Cases, providing various moisture, light and temperature conditions for each individual plant.
HERITAGE, HORTICULTURE & HYPERBUILDS
Reviving the Docklands Plant Trade heritage through Wardian Cases
This project celebrates our scientific movements away from the industrial era through our ability to re-create self-sustaining climates for plants.
The discovery of the Wardian Case- the original terrarium, demonstrates a simple yet powerful ability to re-create its own self-sustaining climate, allowing biodiversity to grow & thrive. Docklands was the largest importer of raw materials including plants, herbs, fruits, veg & many more in the world.
‘Bio’, with the latin meaning ‘organic life’, is becoming increasingly considered through trends such as biophilia, biomimicry and biomorphism. The Biosphere (Earth), must have such trends prioritised at the forefront of design in order to help keep our planet inhabitable. Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, is an intricately researched document on our top 100 most effective methods of reducing and reversing the climate crisis The document covers all issues concerning global warming from family planning/population control to refridgeration, plant-based diets, and organic material usage. Some of the most effective topics have been applied to my proposal are:
• Regenerative farming
• Plant rich diets
• Educating girls
• Solar energy
• Mass organic food production
The fully self-sustaining multi-functional arcological hyper building incorprates public spaces such as horticultural education, plant nurseries & labs that breed native & endangered plants, & informative public exhibitions, along with residential sectors that offer organic food farming inspired by the Wardian Case Terrariums.
Drawdown summarises ways to help reverse global warming. Regenerative farming, plant rich diets, biodiversity & permacultire are some Drawdown methods that I have incorprated into my project. Below is a full list of the methods I have included, and individual summaries of why these methods have been incorprated into my residential biodiverse tower.
A man-made cocoon woven from biodegradable rope material inspired by
the weaving of silkworms. It can be constructed in any softwood tree that
is strong enough and that has a convenient distribution of branches. The
tree is scanned and converted into a 3D model where a custom cocoon design
is created. The cocoon is both lightweight and strong as it is a tensile
structure (secondary structure) wrapping around a tree (primary structure).
It aims to bring people from the city closer to nature.
Trees & Humans
The following images will introduce my artefact into wider context. There are two possible scenarios, which could benefit from my artefact, one of which will be further developed in the upcoming term:
1) forest bathing as a way to for the human to reconnect with nature
2) rewilding as a way to both regenerate the land and human spirit
The aim of photogrammetry was to create the most realistic three-dimensional representation of a tree, which could then be incorporated into computational experiments making the design process much more efficient.
Photogrammetry generated about 60-70% of tree volume leaving out the detailed branches at the outer ends of the tree. 3D scanning would be a possible solution, however, unavailable at the moment.
Combining the Virtual and Real
3D-model of a real tree
wrapping/weaving around the 3D-model of a real tree virtually
Connecting points in space
This section of my portfolio focuses on exploring the ways in which points can be connected with strings – in both two and three dimensions. The gained knowledge from this section informed my virtual weaving experiments (previous section)
When connecting regular geometries, it is much easier to find the differences between different connection techniques. The result looks also much more organised and neat. However, what I am aiming to do is apply these connection techniques to irregular geometries of trees, which is a big challenge.
Wrapping & weaving around real trees
This part tracks my learning of the weaving behaviour of silkworms. I have done my own weaving experiments, both physical and virtual to try and understand how weaved tensile structures work. Going forward, I would like to incorporate some of the observed physical principles into my design (into the Grasshopper script).
How do natural structures and organisms interface with their environment? We seek an architectural language that relates to and speaks to the natural world rather than standing apart from it, by designing a performative urban modular Artefact that brings living nature into the city. The Artefact will be highly site specific, half man-made and half grown from nature.
Chosen Area of Interest – Fungi / Mycelium
Fungi absorb nutrients through vast underground networks of white branching threads called mycelium. Though hidden in the soil and sometimes mistaken for roots, mycelium is actually the proper body of a fungus. Mushrooms are the fruit, appearing only when conditions for spreading their spores are just right.
Mycelium plays a vital role in the decompositon of plant material but also can form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain plants, called mycorrhiza. Most plants depend on mycorrhiza to absorb phosphorus and other nutrients. In exchange, fungi gain constant access to the plants carbohydrates. Often, neither the mushroom nor the plant will grow without a mycorrhizal partner.