ALGAEbuilding research

relation between solar analysis on the facade and the pipes density.

BIOCLIMATIC SECTION - description of the photobioreactor membrane functioning.


The structure and the core of this thesis project derive from a period of research developed in collaboration with ecoLogicStudio in London. The research focused on the study of various kinds of microorganism harvesting aimed at the production of biomass and energy. Particularly, we took as a case study the photobioreactor technology, where a mix of water, nutrients (such as CO2), and microalgae are exposed, inside a clear container, to solar radiation that, through the photosynthesis, triggers and promotes the production organic material. Several experimental plants are demonstrating that this kind of harvesting and its treatment, in order to obtain biomass, has enormous potential to produce biofuel. Furthermore, it is interesting that microalgae need a great amount of carbon dioxide for their reproduction. The next step was to imagine in which way this energetic system could be integrated with another complex system: the architectonic system. The goal was to develop a research centre for renewable energy in Venaria Reale (Torino – Italy), where the distribution of the spaces for research and for public spaces, could be linked together by a parallel system that produces energy for the whole building complex.
This assumption was the starting point for the design of the bioenergetic membrane for the research centre (a pipe photobioreactor system), where the generating rule was the relation between the solar radiation hitting the surface and the pipe density.
I think that the development of a such innovative architectonic typology, is a great example of a close relation between the architectonic and the energetic aspects of a building. Here, technology is not the final goal of architecture but it is simply a means to control the natural processes that allow the building to be a “living machine” strictly related to environmental variables. As a leaf or a tree are not isolated elements because they depend on the surrounding environment to take the feeding through the sun light and substances present in the atmosphere, so the bioenergetic membrane, through microalgae, becomes the main source of energy production of the building. As the vegetal organism gives back to environment what it took before under the form of feeding (oxygen, etc.), so the photoreactive membrane uses part of damaging substances produced by the architectonic organism (carbon dioxide) in order to produce energy for itself.

  • For Turin – ITALY

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