Algae—better known to some as ‘pond scum’—has exciting possibilities in the future of biofuel. The propagation of the slimy green stuff, however, is often hidden away in agricultural and industrial structures. To boost awareness of algae’s uses and production, designers Jie Zhang and Tyler Stevermer teamed up with Selgas Cano to design the Algaevator, a spiral-shaped pavilion that makes algae propagation into an attractive and visible structure.
Created as part of the Burglars of Transnatural Transparency (BoTT) Lab pavilion, the Algaevator is a gravity-based algae photobioreactor built to explore the architectural possibilities of biotechnology utilities. The resulting lightweight and transparent structure comprises three separated spirals intercoiled between a heat-fused, watertight, and layered membrane. “An algae photobioreactor is an artificial environment used to increase the production of algae through the introduction of slow movement, carbon dioxide, and increased access to sunlight,” write the designers. “The algae is then used for various consumer products and alternative fuels.”
The Algaevator’s first spiral introduces carbon dioxide from the environment to the bottom of the coil via a low-energy pump where it travels into an algae-filled spiral. Bubbles gently push the algae, which is combined with carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, to the top of the spiral where the algae is able to off-gas oxygen into the environment and then descend back down to the bottom of the spiral for further cycling. The structure is also able to harvest rainwater for adjacent biotech functions. The Algaevator was put on display and successfully operated for its three-month deployment.
Lead image courtesy of Dheera Venkatraman, other images courtesy of Iwan Baan