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Diatom City

Project type






The project envisages the creation of an autonomous community with a diatom based structure and the basis for an adaptive landscape which welcomes post construction alteration and additions to its strategic framework.

Culturally dissonant to most western form making, its inspiration considers communities of the Gurunnsi of the Burkina Faso and the Hakka communal round houses of China.

Creating central communal areas of social interaction whilst developing the exterior surfaces as moments of permeability and utility provision, retail, health, leisure, with vertical zones of housing and commercial environments.
Inspiration for the form is taken from parabolic hyperbolic diatoms which use surface undulations to provide energy from movement .

These natural forms have inspired the local off grid approach to the project which includes the appropriation of vacant aerial space above the station for its energy generating potential. This concept which utilises caisson construction at the lower level to support the composite construct above offers the possibility create new social and economic opportunities where none had previously existed.

The use of stabilised waste in the printing of these supporting forms brings new and hybridised construction techniques which speak to a culture of recycling and waste management inherent on the projects ethos.The purpose of the project is consider the impact of radical intervention when it is linked to equity that allows capital transfer to its inhabitants to revitalise and revalue neglected and run down areas of the city, allowing capital transfer, whilst delivering sustainable infrastructure that can easily adapt to local requirements with a visual language bereft of hierarchy, but distinct in its characterisation of a sustainable offer.

Site selection is characterised by an opportunistic approach to land value and current occupation.
The more parlous the state of the physical territory the greater the potential benefit particularly within the inner city, as the proposal offers growth and development, whilst its adaptability allows for the preservation of existing buildings and constructs and the remnants of past inhabitation.

This new paradigm physically bridges the divide between communities and utilises the waste energy generated by vehicular movement at its most intense.

The city’s track system is a network of opportunity waiting to be exploited. Situated above a main station the form uses the rising air movement to conduct through ventilation and drive the surface skin generators, providing power to the interconnected buildings augmented by transparent surface solar collectors, which in turn drive the air water condensers providing water for residential and commercial use.
The and rooftop areas extended landscape provide leisure and market garden potential, these undulating platforms, create a series of green terraces that join to produce a mycelium like network of surfaces.

Vehicular traffic has access to a ground level grid of intersecting streets. The city is divided by tracks metaphorical and physical, broken spaces create social division, the project seeks to re connect communities and bring to an end the stigma of ‘the other side of the tracks’.

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