The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards

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Medal Winner 2005
Taking the biomimetic route, my design work is drawn from the work of Professor Marc Baldo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is pioneering the use of spinach to generate electricity.

The scheme looks at combining a power plant and a park together into a regeneration project that will benefit the community in the areas around the Lea Valley. Five vertical towers that are an average of 60 storeys high would house the pods to grow the spinach that is vital to the whole power farm. The protein harvested from the spinach is then used in a photosynthesis process to convert sunlight into electricity, and this power is stored and released as part of the regeneration of the surrounding areas. The towers are also intended as sustainable structures that will burn the physical form of the spinach after extracting the protein.

Since the photosynthesis pods are positioned above ground level, this means that the site has the potential again to reintroduce marshlands to the area. This would have great benefits for local wildlife. The site is on the migration path of many species of birds, the towers are designed to create stopping off points for these birds on their journey. A vertical garden would be developed, igniting an ecology of events [plants – insects – birds].

As a further by-product, the spinach hydroponic towers would create a significant increase in the oxygen levels and thus fresh air in the surrounding area. Airborne pollution could also be absorbed by the spinach and plants. By using spinach to farm electricity, this proposal would potentially allow London to become a sustainable ‘suburban city’.



Yew Choong Chan


The studio project this year was subdivided into a series of interconnecting episodes, providing a framework for students to develop their individual thesis agendas. The studio considered the drawing as subject, object and site of the work a speculative environment of the imagination. Chan's project was both highly inventive and superbly designed and presented.



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