While the world is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels, Algae is an unlimited source of energy, food, and most important, a remarkable natural CO2 absorber. If every industrial energy system inscribes its technological order into the urban fabric, therefore, what shall be the shape and the fingerprint of the next ZERO CARBON economy in the big cities? Re-use is by far the most sustainable option: that’s why the key issue is how anticipate Algae’s green future in the core of the major cities, transforming existing building, there where most of people live and where emissions of CO2 are the most important.
Chicago, like almost all big cities in the world is been confronted to the same paradox: the need to have a bigger economic grown, and the vital need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by this growth, to envision a livable future. This situation reveals the enormous need to introduce a new sustainable model which allows benefic closed loops in terms of providing clean energy, reducing and absorbing CO2 emissions and finally, allowing a sustainable economic growth. The Introduction of the Algae green technology has a major role to play to achieve zero environmental footprint in the core of the city.
The key to reusing: Algae Retrofitting
This proposal anticipates an Algae retrofitting for one of the most innovative buildings constructed in the Loop of Chicago: The Marina City’s Towers. This 20th century masterpiece was conceived by the architect Bertrand Goldberg and built in 1964. Few buildings in the world could have embodied better than Marina City’ towers the spirit of their time, reflecting in such iconic way the pattern of the fossil fuel economy in the built environment. Showcasing Algae potential and blending new emerging green technologies to create a whole new CO2 scrubbing integrated system, the retrofitting will ensure to clean polluted air, to create energy onsite, allow food production, and to process all waste water to be reused. Using bio-engineering processes, a synergetic closed loop integrates three different levels of carbon reduction: direct carbon sequestration from the air (used to feed the Algae bioreactor), absorption by vegetal photosynthesis (Algae, vertical farming and phytoremediation), and reduction by energy saving (introduction of solar and wind harvesting energy).
Blending Emerging Green Technologies
An Algae Bioreactor will produce energy enough to fulfill all building’s energetic needs. Located on both tower’s top and in one of the parking ramps, a modular system of algae tubes will be adapted to fit between the parking structure, and absorbs the sun’s radiation to produce bio fuel. The interior of former parking surface shall be widely reduced, to adapt it to new electric and biodiesel powered compact cars size. At the top of both towers, new wind power turbines will enhance the carbon-scrubbing device air flow and providing it with electricity power. Bellow them, two “humidity swing” carbon scrubbing plants capture the CO2 from the air absorbing CO2 and closing the carbon cycle (needed to feed the biomass production).
The other parking ramp will be transformed in a really biodiversity spot, a Phytoremediation Garden, which uses natural gravity on the ramp to deploy a 2 km water filter layout. The recycled water could feed almost 1 ha of vertical farming, hosted by the reshaped semicircular balconies, re-skinned to allow photovoltaic and solar thermal panels.
This project represents certainly the first architectural proposal which integrates an onsite Algae bioreactor with this new CO2 sequestration technology into an existing building, to reach the main goal of a strong DeCarbonization impact. This advantageous experience will make the Algae Marina City a benchmark for sustainable strategies all over the world.
Project description: Algae retrofitting for the Marina City Towers Type: Algae Open International Ideas Competition
Client: Algae Alliance
Program: Algae bioreactors, seed market, showroom, technical facilities, filtering garden, wind turbines infrastructure.
Project Area: 14 000 sq m of Algae Bioreactors.
Scope: Architectural and Infrastructure Concept Design
Project Year: 2011
Project Leader: Mario Caceres
Team: Mario Caceres, Architect and Urban Planner.
Christian Canonico, Architect and Engineer
Consultants: ENNESIS for Algae Bioreactors.
VENGERWIND for wind turbines.
Photo credit: AETRANGERE