Algae Farm – ecoLogicStudio designed an ecocity in Sweden that revolves around the algae industry
Amidst society’s hopes for a green future, the power of working with nature is still not sufficiently understood or exploited. Too many visions remain divorced from the end user. Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, the architects and co-founders of London-based ecoLogicStudio, feel that ‘using and interacting with natural elements in a symbiotic way can become a game with ecological benefits.’ Recently they have focused on the potential of algae—micro-algae are used for energy, while macro-algae—like bio-radars or generative agents—is used for filtering water and making food.
As global regions undergo structural and demographic shifts, agritourism and algae farms have huge potential, but models need testing and feedback from people, so that prototypes can be optimally identified as multi-use educational resources related to their living context. ‘You don’t have so many choices at the moment. There is a detachment of production from consumption, when even recycling can be fun’, say ecoLogicStudio. Their Algae Farm for the Swedish Municipality of Simrishamn demonstrates the interactive potentials for algae-related urban activities and architectural prototypes. Here on the Ostersjiön region of Sweden on the Baltic Sea a decaying fishing industry and ageing local population ‘calls for the introduction of a new type of economic and urban system.’
After proposing a project to the Municipality, the team was invited to design a masterplan for the region. This explores the incubation of new models for tourism, other industries, research, with algae playing a leading role in what is envisaged as a mix of top down strategies and investments (production of biofuels and other renewable energies), and bottom up initiatives with the involvement of farmers and fishermen. They mapped the potential of Skane’s riverbed, lakesides, farmland, woodland, villages, ports, deep sea and shallow seawaters. ‘Our masterplan is an interface. By involving small producers in the region it becomes participatory’, say ecoLogic. ‘It will be realized bit by bit’. Then it can be ‘more capillary, more customized, based on advanced local knowledge’.
To convey their network strategy the architects produced a large fold-out map of the region mimicking its tourist map with a ‘co-action’ plan for the area and six prototypes, one of which will be built by next summer. Six integrated solutions for each of these geographical conditions harness the input of different actors and agents in the area from industry, tourism and research each assigned a participatory role in the projects.
These local groups are denoted on the map by different coloured dots, but also, depending on the identity of their application, by cycles of application. For example, ecology, energy, food, water and microclimate, is the cycle of action, for new symbiotic algae and seafood/fish farms conceived as Crane Greenhouses. Designed for the underused ports and coastal areas, these crane-like structures hold canopies made of ETFE like petals with small bags that function as adaptive greenhouses capable of supporting production over 12 months a year.