Alga(e)zebo: bioreactors

Alga(e)zebo – for The Mayor of London Presents: Incredible Installations by marcosandmarjan with Richard Beckett

Alga(e)zebo – for The Mayor of London Presents: Incredible Installations by marcosandmarjan with Richard Beckett Richard Beckett architect, Bart

Part of the London Olympic 2012 Event, Alga(e)zebo is one of a number of temporary pavilions unveiled in the city.

Located for 2 months in Euston Square Gardens, The structure consists of a compound curved steel surface encasing a pair of experimental photobioreactor columns designed as a live test into the potential inclusion of biological micro-organisms into future architecture.

The installation consists of a large decorative canopy-structure, a Gazebo. The concept of the Gazebo follows an English tradition in which such filigree construction becomes a jewel that punctuates the landscape, creating a small gathering or viewing point that in turn organises the natural setting around it. The steel structure also fits in the tradition of exposed steel paraphernalia – gates, fences, fountains, pipe work etc. – which distinguishes and enriches so many UK cities. The complex patterns of the surface create a unique ornamental structure that evokes a sense of delicacy and elegance, with an ever-changing effect of light and shadows.

The separate columns, consisting of varying volume bioreactors contain a range of different micro-organisms. From carbon dioxide consuming strains of algae to localised bacteria from surrounding gardens. The columns represent a unique real world testbed, looking specifically to see how such technology can be adapted to work within the complexity of a non standardised environment that architecture inevitably inhabits.

The Alga(e)zebo intertwines human artifice with natural surrounding. This is achieved in three distinct manners that vary in scale and effect.

The irregular outline of the Gazebo allows for trees or taller bushes to grow in between the structure.

The multifaceted patterns create a scaffold for smaller vegetation to grow into it as a pergola.

The vertical columns incorporate algae tubes with different strains of locally bred algae that vary in texture and colour. It suggests an Alga(e)zebo.

All three conditions reflect the complex boundary negotiations that take place between architecture and nature in our contemporary cities. There is an aspiration to intermingle and merge these conditions; architecture is behaving and looking more like biological construct, whilst nature is manipulated via human interference.

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