Halted in November 2008, mid-construction, the Filene development in downtown Boston is currently barely even a shell of a building. The bones of the building are up, but sub street level a giant hole leaves a gouge in the city’s plan. Undaunted, Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Squared Design Lab teamed up to design a vertical tower of prefabricated “eco pods” filled with bio-fuel producing algae for the space. The new tower would act as a center to test new algae species and different growing methods.
Stalled projects are a blight on any city’s landscape, but several Boston architects are looking to turn those mid-construction eyesores into useful (and cool-lookin’) spaces. With the economy in the gutter, many developers’ plans were squashed, but rather than sit idly, the Boston Globe asked architects to take a look at the sites and envision completely new projects that use the existing structure to improve the city. Höweler + Yoon and Squared Design Lab took a stab at the stalled Filene Development at Downtown Crossing and envisioned “Eco Pods,” a prefab, bio-fuel producing building that can adapt, change and grow over time.
Robotic arms attached to the building would move the pods around to optimize growing conditions. Voids are created when the pods are reconfigured, leaving behind space for public parks or botanical gardens. Bio-fuel created within the pods is used to power the robotic arms and the remainder would be used elsewhere, possibly to assist construction. Once construction is complete, the pods could be taken and reinstalled on another building and be reused. As Höweler + Yoon says about the project “This is anticipatory pre-cycled architecture, capable of generating a new micro-urbanism that is local, agile and carbon net-postive.”