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Cathedral to Alchemy – a recycling facility for decommissioned London buses

Part 2 Project 2011
Aaron Holden
University of Westminster London UK
‘Architecture moves towards customized models, embedded with bio and nanotechnologies…thus slowly erasing the boundaries between the organic and the man-made.’
Ray Kurzweil, 2011

Buses are, and are likely to remain, the dominant mode of public transport in London – every weekday about 6.3 million passengers use London buses. Whilst awareness of the environmental impact of vehicle emissions is growing, there is a distinct grey area over what happens to the vehicles once they have been taken off the road. The brief searches for an alternative to the large number of buses found derelict and decaying in a number of ‘bus graveyards’ across the country.

The project identifies the inherent value of the London bus – what if our derelict buses could be turned into a reusable metal fuel? Located on the site of a former power station at Lots Road, the proposal is for a facility that takes decommissioned London buses and recycles scrap aluminium into metal fuel through four alchemical transmutations: the blackening stage (collection of scrap aluminium bus body), the whitening stage (heating of solid metal to vapour), the yellowing stage (cooling of vapour to liquid metal), and the rubedo (final cooling to solid and then collection as metal fuel).

A viable system for satisfying future generations’ emission and fuel demands through the reduction and recycling of aluminium. This scheme investigates pioneering metal fuel technology in an era when new fuel sources are important to creating a sustainable society.
In as much as it is a research facility for science, the project also encourages public interaction through an independent auction house. This market place, coupled with an alchemical education auditorium, enhances communication between the surrounding buildings. It is a modern-day cathedral celebrating the creation of the new fuel and as such breaths life into the derelict Lots Road power station’s existing urban context.


Ultimately the project asserts that environmental goals should be integrated with a framework of industrial modernity.



Aaron Holden

Tutor(s)

Prof Murray Fraser
2011
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