This was a project done my senior year, final semester. The Professor leading this project was Phillip Tabb, designer of the Serenbe Project in Georgia. He decided to try and push the idea of sustainability to its absolute limits by designing an Ark that could survive a societal or political post-apocalyptic scenario. The goal was to design a megastructure that could house 100 families just a few miles outside of Bryan, Texas. We were divided up into teams, and we were to research the capabilities of our ark, as well as determining what structure would work best to our purpose. Our team consisted of: Myself (Zack Morris), Megan Parish, and Louis Edwards.
We were to begin with a master plan, devising where the structure, all of our agriculture, our cattle and our mechanical systems were to be placed on the site. The rough area of our site was one square mile, giving us more than enough land to situate everything a civilization that size would need to survive. I conducted extensive research into the daily eating habits of humans from a period of 30 years, and then calculated the average daily consumption of an individual person, and finally ranked what was eaten the most consistently over that 30 year period. We allocated our acreage based on what people would consume the most, and what could be grown best in the area. We also then allocated a crop rotation system, by planting a supplemental crop to help keep the soil rich, so it could be used for a much longer duration. Louis and myself also researched what we could do to help maintain the soils fertility. A few methods was to use animal rotation, allowing livestock to forage in an area for a predetermined amount of time, then move them into the next area. Following the cattle would be poultry, and they would move through and eat the insects that came from the cattle. The manure would then be dispersed to both the Co-Generator to use as clean electricity, and to help fertilize the crop lands.
We then began the design process of the structure itself. Upon entry into the megastructure, the area is left wide open and exposed, for the purpose of using it as a market, or other public venues, such as carnivals. There needed to be a designated area where the people could go to unwind and spend time being with other people.
Once you enter the residential area of the building, it becomes much more vibrant and alive. We drew inspiration from the visual aspects of Norman Foster's concept for Masdar, a sustainable city being developed in Abu Dhabi. We took the idea of an open market-style interior and made it more organic to accentuate the feel we wanted to establish within the building. The advantage of using that style was creating shade for the lower levels, reducing the amount of air conditioning required to use inside the building. Instead of straight aisle ways on both sides, we made it very Baroque by using the curve-counter curve concept. The next step was to offset the curves, giving the appearance of waves on the beach. Finally, we began to add and subtract from curves in random order, giving it a more dynamic motion when seen. Once the sides were developed, we began to consider modes of egress from side to side on each level. We then began to develop the bridges connecting the two sides. Instead of just inserting them somewhere, we transitioned them out from the curves, continuing the organic feel we were expressing. We then began beautification by filling the space with greenery to make it warmer and more comfortable within the structure. The plants would also help to provide oxygen, since there would be a large amount of carbon dioxide building up within the structure. A few ideas of how the greenery would be placed were taken from Masdar, and others were duplicated from Babylon's legendary hanging gardens. Once you reach the end of the structure, you go downstairs to the kitchen and cafeteria. Instead of allowing people to stay to themselves inside their units, they are encouraged to come and fellowship with one another down in the cafeteria. Nothing is forced upon anyone, except for the children to attend school everyday. Included in the residential area of the structure is a school for grades K-12, a library, theater, computer lab, nursery, a gym, a workshop, and a few stores for goods.
The next major design idea was to integrate a skin onto the structure, which would serve the purpose of shelter, as well as a solar collector for the entire structure. We realized that a standard glass skin would not be beneficial, because it would just amplify the heat inside the space like a greenhouse. Louis then began to design patterns into the glass to reduce heat gain, and to reduce the amount of direct sunlight entering the building. Further research into the skin actually produced the idea that we could make the glass at certain points of the building could open, so the building could have natural ventilation, reducing the amount of air conditioning needed to maintain a constant temperature within the building.
We continued to develop every aspect of the megastructure, including the working systems and structure. We were able to incorporate solar collection, passive cooling, rain collection, and many other systems to help reduce the amount of energy needed from the Co-Generator. The main material usage was to be reinforced concrete and steel. This made construction much easier for the main structure, allowing for a faster completion. The main structure system also would help to house the working plumbing and electrical lines as well as providing the structure of the entire building. When it came to the interior, all materials were recycled, taken from homes, businesses and other places by the people in the megastructure. The same went for any appliances or electronics, they were to be salvaged from the nearby towns and cities.
The project was so unique, it received recognition by the College of Architecture, and was published in the newsletter. Check the article here.
Status: School Project
Location: Bryan, TX, US