"pre-cycled" architecture


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About the project Edit

Eco-Pod is a conceptual structure design for the city of Boston developed by Squared Design Lab and Howeler Yoon Architecture where an unfinished building would be covered in modular pods growing algae for biofuel. Taking advantage of the stalled Filene’s construction site at Downtown Crossing, Eco-Pod is a proposal to immediately stimulate the economy, and the ecology, of downtown Boston. Eco‐Pod is a temporary vertical algae bio‐reactor and new public Commons, built with custom prefabricated modules. The pods will serve as bio‐fuel sources and as micro‐incubators for flexible research and development programs. As an open and reconfigurable structure, the voids between pods form a network of vertical public parks/botanical gardens housing unique plant species‐ a new Uncommon for the Commons.

Micro‐algae is one of the most promising bio‐fuel crops of today, yielding over thirty times more energy per acre than any other fuel crop. Unlike other crops, algae can grow vertically and on non‐arable land. Algae farming uses sugar and cellulose to create bio‐fuels. Recent advances in single step algae oil extraction and low energy high efficiency LEDs make the algae bio‐reactor an extremely promising prospect on the renewable energy technology horizon.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The reconfigurable modular units allow the structure to transform to meet changing programmatic and economic needs, while the continuous construction on the site will broadcast a subtle semaphore of constructional activity and economic recovery. This is anticipatory architecture, capable of generating a new micro‐urbanism that is local, agile, and carbon net positive. Designed with flexibility and reconfigurability in mind, the modularity of the units anticipates future deployments on other sites. An instant architecture, designed with an intention towards its afterlife(s), this is a pre‐cycled architecture.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

In addition to being an active bio‐reactor and local source of renewable energy, the Eco‐Pod is also a research incubator in which scientists can test algae species and methods of fuel extraction, including new techniques of using low energy LED lighting for regulating the algae growth cycles. The central location of the Eco‐Pod (central Boston) and the public and visible nature of the research, allows the public to experience the algae growth and energy production processes. As a productive botanical garden, it also functions as a pilot project, a public information center and catalyst for ecological awareness. An on‐site robotic armature (powered by the algae bio‐fuel) is designed to reconfigure the modules to maximize algae growth conditions and to accommodate evolving spatial and programmatic conditions in real‐time.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Once funding is in place for the original architectural proposal, the modules can be easily disassembled and redistributed to various neighborhoods around Boston, infilling other empty sites, testing new proposals, and developing initiatives with other communities. The designers hope that the temporary nature of the structure would lead to many being placed around Boston, installed on suspended construction sites and areas particularly hit by the recession.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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