Michael Friebele

Michael Friebele

Dallas, TX, US


Landscraper Species

With Diego Wu Law + Laura Quintero


The Galapagos Islands is located in the Pacific Ocean, 605 miles of the coast of Ecuador. It is an archipelago of thirteen volcanic islands and houses the most unique animals in the world. These animals are the origin of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Topographical variances among islands led to the distinction of species in the archipelago. The Galapagos is home to over 40 endemic species. The marine iguana is the only iguana in the world that lives in the ocean. The most northerly penguin and the only type found in warm water inhabit these islands. The world’s only flightless cormorants had evolved to be excellent swimmers. The boobies feature uniquely blue or red feet pigmentation and have become excellent divers. The lack of human contact resulted in a densely populated animal environment. The intrusion of humans and introduced animals led to a decline in the local animal population.
The most iconic endemic animal is the giant tortoise. The archipelago originally had 14 sub-species of giant tortoises. Each species had adapted to the characteristics of each island and evolved accordingly to those features. There were about 100,000 tortoises before the intrusion of humans and other animals. By the 1970s the population of tortoises was roughly about 530 with only 11 sub-species remaining. By the 1970s awareness programs were established to rescue the population. One of the research programs was in the island of Isabela. Several tortoises from different islands were brought in for research and breeding. By 2007 the population of tortoises was 4,000. The tortoises were repatriated to their home island and were protected by several preservation laws. Ten of the eleven species were recovered.
Research and preservation methods continue to monitor the population of tortoises. Introduced mammals, both predators and competitors have been removed from the islands. The study of these animals requires a center where research can be done without holding the animal hostage for long periods of time. It is an integral design where scientists can adapt to the environment of the animals avoiding the abruption in the transition from the research center to their natural habitats. Animals will be brought in from the different points of the archipelago for study, and will be accommodated accordingly without constraining them.
The landscraper is located in the biggest island of the archipelago, Isabela. It is situated on the east side of the island, near volcano Alcedo. The location will provide easier accessibility to the other islands and sustainable materials for the construction. The structural membrane is designed around the topography. The land-scraper becomes one with the environment. The rocky landscape will serve as a host for the membrane. The structural membrane and rest of structure is made from volcanic elements gathered from the site. The vegetative net system will serve as food and as additional protection for the animals. These elements provide strength and deteriorating abilities to the land-scraper. Once activity stops, the vegetative net will decay and the volcanic elements will become part of the rocky terrain.
The landscraper is powered by a micro-hydroelectric energy system. This system will be activated by high tide waves. The tip of the landscraper will house a series of micro-turbines to generate energy. This is then transformed by the powerhouse located in the hollowed section of the research center. The filtered water either from the rain or from the ocean will sustain the landscraper and its habitants. The structural membrane serves as a water-filtering network for the landscraper.

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Status: Competition Entry

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