A proposal for an algae-powered city has won the design competition for Liberland, the world's newest sovereign nation in Europe. A 2.7 square mile patch of land located in a floodplain on the Danube River between Croatia and Serbia, Liberland presents a unique challenge for architects and urbanists tasked with designing a self-governing micro-nation that guarantees its citizens economic and personal freedom. RAW-NYC tackled the challenge with a deep green mixed-use city design that stacks horizontal layers vertically to accommodate population expansion.
The winning proposal is a pedestrian-friendly design that supports a growing populace with stackable horizontal structures. Called Inverted Archaeology, this groundbreaking technique constructs the city-state in consecutive temporal layers to form a self-sufficient, compact, dense, integrated and resilient urban fabric. This is a transit-oriented development that achieves optimum site efficiency and mitigates what – in such a dense environment – would entail a great deal of greenhouse gas emissions from cars. Algae, strains of which don’t require significant sunlight to proliferate, would be grown on the underside of buildings to provide a clean source of energy.
The design specifically creates an environment that is conducive to innovation, ensuring that all citizens – regardless of their ethnicity, race, age, gender or profession – have every opportunity to reach their full potential and participate collectively in financial gains.
The RAW-NYC team led by Raya Ani comprised an interdisciplinary group of collaborators from around the world, including – for full disclosure – the author of this post. “The team makeup and the design process was quite interesting and challenging at the same time,” Ani told Inhabitat. “To bring people together from different backgrounds substantiated our ideas and enriched the design process.”
“The main vision was to balance density with quality of life. We wanted to address density differently than defaulting to skyscrapers, where connections between buildings occur only on the ground level. We wanted the city to be built one horizontal layer at a time, where it’s possible to walk everywhere and everything is connected. The horizontal layers are stacked in a staggered configuration to ensure natural light penetrates all of them.”
Liberland president Vít Jedlička told Inhabitat that he and his team are studying whether a stackable algae-powered city design is feasible for Liberland.
“We are blessed to have such great minds involved in creating Liberland, he said. “The winning design concepts show that the country can become a prosperous habitable area using [the] latest innovations in green technology to remain mostly self-sufficient. We will further study upon the 1st place project to see if and how exactly it could be introduced in reality. When that’s possible, we want to launch a virtual 3D landscape with building models to help people choose a place to live or to invest in. I congratulate all selected participants for their clever ideas representing the freedom Liberland stands for.”
Sustainability played an important role in the RAW-NYC design. In addition to algae, buildings would feature integrated photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting systems and green roofs, and nothing would go to waste – neither space nor materials. Everything would be recycled, including all human, agricultural and organic waste, which would be converted into biofuel, and rooftop and community gardening would be scattered throughout, and floodable parks embrace rising waters.
The Liberland design competition provided the opportunity of a lifetime – to design from scratch a progressive nation state that promotes innovation and autonomy. The RAW-NYC team used every available device to envision a genuinely sustainable, zero-waste urban oasis that will be resilient in the face of the numerous economic, environmental, and social challenges in the pipeline.