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Reciprocal Ecologies

Part 1 Project 2011
Henry Sykes
University of Nottingham | UK
For nearly 2000 years the Fenlands have been at the cutting edge of agricultural revolution in Britain. The rich fertile soils once submerged beneath the wetlands have proved irresistible to farmers and the now entirely drained landscape is one of the most engineered and carefully monitored regions in the world. With 40% of our food now having to be imported and a rising population in Britain of over 70 million people, the burden we place upon these fields and their precious soils rises with every season. Increasingly farmers must resort to poisonous chemicals to inject lost fertility back into the land in a desperate attempt to meet our immense needs. These short-term solutions cause lasting damage to the ecological health of the region both onshore and off. As well as becoming increasingly expensive, these oil based products will soon be impossible to make as fossil fuels run out.

Reciprocal ecologies uses polluted shellfish found in The Wash to make a substance called Chitosan. By using this to coat a seed and then planting it intelligently, chemical usage can be eliminated. With the soil quality allowed to improve naturally reciprocity between the land and the sea is created. To understand and harness the natural abilities of these ecologies is to create a new responsible method of cultivation that can be tailored to the past, present and future landscapes of the Fens.

Positioned behind the seawall each element of the building creates a functional public element, unique to the region, as well as housing different innovative process within. Plant doctors in a Crop Clinic will offer new solutions to problems currently solved with chemicals and give Fenland farmers greater skills and knowledge to tackle problems in a sustainable manner using the technology developed onsite. Inventions such as the ‘seed printer’ will make this planting process efficient and the ‘Gravity battery’ a new renewable energy could power the process. The Crop Clinic works to create a unique centre for the research, practice and exposition of agricultures most recent and advanced innovations, restoring the region as an important catalyst for change in agriculture.

Henry Sykes


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