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Constructed Biotope

Part 2 Project 2010
Daniel Harald Baumann
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
The project is sited on a historically significant site in Belem, Lisbon, from where the Portuguese explorers took off to sea in the age of the discoveries. Today the area is home to several national monuments including the UNESCO world heritage Jerónimos Monastery, and the new Lisbon Cultural Centre (CCB).

The design intent is twofold. Firstly, to involve the proposal of a new urban landscape, developed around a system of storm water ducts and basins for the collection, and of a treatment system of urban run-off. Secondly, to design a ferry terminal in the river Tejo to come to terms with Lisbon’s half a million commuters, as well as with the existing environmental condition of harmful algae blooms in the river resulting from urban and agricultural outflow. Thus, the architecture of the ferry terminal is developed to construct an architectural biotope by allowing the otherwise harmful filamentous algae to grow within a confined environment, enabling a biological water treatment process to take place while harvesting the useful algae crop.

On various scales and in mixed media, 1:1 growth components and systems, structural systems, and urban landscapes have been tested and refined to construct the final proposal. Furthermore, the project contains multiple events of varying frequency and significance: the daily routines of commuters, recorded variations in seasonal rain and consequential algae growth, as well annual religious processions from the pier to the Jerónimos Cathedral.

Daniel Harald Baumann

This is one of those projects that require a second and more profound reading of a multi-layered and multi-scaled approach to architectural design. Rather than following an immediately recognizable formal solution, such a non-linear process relies on a variety of techniques and preoccupations where typological (re-interpretation of function), topological (reading of place), and morphological components (experimentation with structure and materials) complement the ecological dimension of architecture.

The project is multi-programmatic. It proposes a speculative design solution in which a water-filtering ‘biotope’ is combined with a ferry terminal and a neglected procession route on the axis of the main entrance of the Jerónimos Cathedral.

The project is highly contextual. In considering the extraordinary historic weight of the site, it rethinks the urban voids left behind after the 1940 Grand Portuguese Exhibition, while also criticizing the hard-edged (often residual and derelict) Lisbon water front with the intervention of an unprecedented perpendicular (topographically determined) arrangement to the river.

The project follows a green agenda. Rather than aiming for a linear technical solution (as so often in projects with such environmental preoccupations), it proposes a series of ‘green’ walls that grow algae vertically to filter polluted water. These biological interfaces are not mere cladding devices, but free-standing structural constructs that resemble large-scale sails on the edge of the river where the Portuguese discoveries once started from.

The project uses a variety of media. It explores 2D and 3D modeling techniques through extensive laser-cutting and rapid-prototyping processes without neglecting the assembling dexterity (and serendipity) of handcrafted models. The project is also extensively drawn and rendered with a particular focus given to the construction of perspectival models.

This is a remarkable project in terms of its width and depth in scope. In contemporary education, it is more unique than rare to pursue a contextually driven and yet formally adventurous design agenda. Daniel’s project achieves what many of his contemporary peers may find unattainable: rigour beyond the domain of technique, vision beyond the realm of technology and performance beyond the veil of process.

Mr Marcos Cruz
Mr Marjan Colletti
• Page Hits: 21470         • Entry Date: 11 September 2010         • Last Update: 15 September 2010