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AL[GAIA] | A Poetic System

Part 1 Project 2013
Benjamin Watkinson
University of Plymouth Plymouth UK
Based in the Plym valley, Devon, the project emerged from what was found and given on site and a brief extracted from that information aligning an architectural proposition of a redefined vernacular into a study of the vernacular and identity of place.

Artificial and natural cultivation of Algae supports the proposal for a research and visitors centre, exploring the possibility of an isolated self-regulatory system for an equilibrium between nature and man; between the inorganic and the organic. Areas exist within the Plym valley where organisms and their inorganic surroundings already interact and coexist. The quarried post-industrial landscape contains remnants of ruins and cuts in the earth as a result of the locally sustained trade, but nature is beginning to reclaim and regenerate on a small scale potentially reaffirming equilibrium. The project explores the possibility of an Architectural Gaia as an isolated entity. This exploration into abandoned memory and richness context will reactivate elements of the valley [spine] such as the disused railway and canal drawing together the scattered deactivated ruins of the quarrying industry.

The laboratory complex and visitors centre researches and educates with respect to the cultivation of Algae to promote and encourage the aspiration of the project. Supplied by water and Algae cultures, the Cultivation and analysis laboratories would provide a source of energy, heat and income, which is the ‘engine’ of the scheme. Oral archives and reflection areas are embedded within, and projected from, the quarry cut capitalising upon views of the waterfall. The intimate nature of the spaces, designed for a more delicate human existence, provides an environment for collaboration and contemplation.

The existing horizontal condition of the abandoned canal and the grafted vertical condition between the building and the quarry face set the context for the project; one side of the river, the closed scientific system with artificial cultivation alongside the Artificial public allotments; and the other side, the natural allotments appropriating the disused canal for public use.

Fundamentally, the proposal will be self-subsistent and Biowalls will facilitate internal and external barometers for air quality and energy production.

Benjamin Watkinson

Tutor(s)



2013
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