Welcome to the Y.our E.nvironment O.f the W.eek!
We’re sharing inspiring and influential project solutions to increase the presence of design in our practice as we have the responsibility of shaping environments in the world for ourselves and the future.
For this week’s YEOW, we’d like to share with you the Canal Park
in Washington, D.C.
Canal Park exemplifies how a public‐private partnership
can be used to create a public amenity that enhances the community and provides
environmental benefits. The site serves as both a park and neighborhood
stormwater retention area. It is designed to capture, treat, and use runoff
collected onsite and from adjacent residential and commercial properties.
One of the first parks built as part of the District of
Columbia's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, Canal Park is a model of
sustainability, attaining both SITES and LEED Gold certifications, and
establishing itself as a social gathering place and an economic trigger.
Located on 3 acres of what was recently relegated as a parking lot for district
school buses, this three-block long park is sited along the historic former
Washington Canal system. Inspired by the site’s waterfront heritage, OLIN’s
design evokes the history of the space with a linear rain garden and three
pavilions reminiscent of floating barges that were once common in the canal.
Through a close collaboration with OLIN, STUDIOS Architecture designed a
9,000-square foot pavilion to host a café and dining area, as well as utilities
that support the park and ice rink. Approximately 150-200 square feet each, a
second pavilion serves as a stage in the middle of the park, while a third
offers storage for park amenities. Custom David Hess sculptures are located on
each of the city blocks.
Gorgeous Floating Water Lily Islands Soak Up Solar Rays
It may be a little ambitious but I believe Head architect Winy Maas has the idea, along with research group The Why Factory. They challenge human kind around the world to think big in regards to going green and conserving our natural resources. Making bold and slightly fantastical designs, the group’s plan for the Thai city of Phuket are both beautiful and self-sustaining. Part of an exhibition at Berlin’s Aedes am Pfefferberg, Why Factory’s submission is a series of water-lily like artificial islands that soak up the sun and convert it to energy.
The exhibition, entitled “Water- Curse or Blessing”, presents innovative projects for architectural and infrastructural advancement in regions of Asia that are near large bodies of water. Since 90% of residents of southeast Asia, as well as south and east of that live near water, the exhibition tackles the issues that are specific to these regions. Water may be everywhere, but these areas are still commonly afflicted by droughts, floods, and shortages of potable water.
Why Factory’s water lilies are giant floating islands that surround the lush city of Phuket. Opening in blossom towards the sun, the lily islands would attract tourists to the area. Each would be accessible by boat, with stairways that lead to platforms providing incredible views – views also reflected in each petal of the blossom. Not only beautiful, but the islands are also functional, soaking up sun with their giant radii, and transferring it back to power the city. Why Factory’s ideas are large scale- they don’t believe in small individual steps, but rather grand gestures to slowly turn this world into a sustainable energy powerhouse.
WHY NOT USE A SIMILAR CONCEPT TO SOLVE CALIFORNIA'S DROUGHT!
California is suffering through its worst drought in decades, and it has gotten so bad that officials announced that 17 communities across the state are in danger of running out of water within 60 to 120 days. But what if the solution to California’s water crisis is as simple as sunlight – a resource the state has in abundance? That’s exactly what California-based startup WaterFX is proposing with its solar-powered desalination system. Renewable desalination could solve water scarcity issues not just in California but in other drought-stricken and desertified areas across the world.
WaterFX‘s system cleans water with a Concentrated Solar Still (CSS), which collects the sun’s thermal energy and transfers it through pipes filled with heat transfer fluid to a heat pump. The heat is then used for the distillation process, which evaporates freshwater out of the saltwater source. The condensate is then recovered as pure, fresh H2O. A thermal storage system holds excess heat for the times when the sun isn’t shining.
“If we roll out the technology … we could produce 8% of all the water used in California, with just the land that was fallowed during the last drought,” WaterFX Founder and Chairman Aaron Mandell recently toldForbes Magazine. “That’s enough water for over 7M acres of irrigated farmland. You would begin to change the economics and change the course of how water is used. The whole idea is to wean the State off of the Central Aqueduct and become water independent. The current system is unsustainable and unreliable.”
However solar desalination systems are not without their challenges – it takes a lot of energy to suck up large quantities of ocean water, and the process can capture local marine life as well. There’s also the issue of solar desalination’s byproduct – a salty sludge that can harm ecosystems if it’s pumped back into the ocean.
Other parts of the world working on renewable desalination include South Australia, where Sundrop Farms has installed a desalination plant near Port Augusta; Qatar, where the Sahara Forest Project is experimenting with a pilot system; and Saudi Arabia, where there are plans to build a solar-powered plant in Al-Khafji. Saudi Arabia currently uses the equivalent of around 300,000 barrels of crude oil a day for its desalination plants, so switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could have a huge positive impact on climate change and sustainability.
“What we are trying to do is to develop a model that can be replicated. The problems in California are identical to those in many parts of the world. China is depending on delicate river systems to provide water for all types of economic growth that will not be sustainable. We could also do this in Saudi Arabia – they use an enormous amount of oil for water consumption, to evaporate or move water around the country,” said Mandell.
If we are in a drought with no where else to go, I'm quite sure innovation will arise and take its place to map its coarse across the nation while presenting uncharted underground and above ground sustainable solutions. Or Else we resort to this.