Paris-based Influx_Studio just unveiled a plan to transform Chicago's iconic Marina City Towers into algae-producing, carbon reducing, greenhouses that could all the power they need to operate. The towers were originally built back in 1962, but they are in need of a major renovation and energy efficiency upgrade. Influx_Studio's proposal goes beyond the retrofit and adds a CO2 scrubbing system to the tops of the towers, an algae bioreactor inside each building, photovoltaics, vertical gardens and rainwater harvesting. The resulting synergistic system allows the towers to sustain themself, plus it works to make downtown Chicago a healthier and more sustainable place.
Working towards the Chicago DeCarbonization Plan, Influx_Studio came up with the idea to retrofit Marina City Towers into a renewable powerhouse and incorporate algae production technologies as a way to help Chicago become more self-sufficient. This project seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of the Loop area, and goes far beyond a classic “retrofit” operation. First comprehensive work would be completed to upgrade the building envelope, heating & cooling, hot water, lighting systems, etc. Then, a number of advanced and sustainable technologies would be added to make the building net positive.
Two carbon scrubbing plants would be installed on the towers to capture CO2 from the air, filter it, and release oxygen, thus creating a valuable resource to feed the biomass production. Wind turbines at the top would enhance airflow and generate electricity. Then algae bioreactors would be installed near the top of the towers and on one of the building’s ramps. These bioreactors would soak up the sun’s radiation and CO2 from the scrubbers to create biofuel, which would then be used to power the building and for use in vehicles. The other ramp would be transformed into a Phytoremediation Garden, which would produce enough recycled water to irrigate the vertical garden, which would clad the outside of the building. The exterior would be re-skinned to allow for the planters as well as photovoltaics. The end result is a fully sustainable building that actually helps reduce the impact of the surrounding city.