Amazing Algae Architecture

How will growing algae change the world and improve our lives? Lets look into our future and see how algae will move into landscapes, living buildings with green photosynthetic membranes, and eco communities producing local food and energy. Here are just a few of the emerging themes, schemes and dreams in algae architecture design, from the possibly practical to the utterly fantastic.

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Green Loop: Marina City Global Algae Retrofitting, Chicago.
Influx_Studio, Mario Caceres, Christian Canonico. 1190.

Algae proposal for one of the most innovative buildings in the Loop of Chicago: Marina City Towers. An algae based strategy for a new sustainable model in urban areas. Re-visioning an iconic building from the past century fossil fuel economy. An environmental vision committed with the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Growing algae, absorbing CO2, harvesting energy, filtering water and producing food onsite. The key issue is how anticipate algae’s green future in the core of the major cities, transforming existing buildings, where most people live and where CO2 emissions are highest.

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Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution. GSA Federal Building, Los Angeles, CA.
HOK/Vanderweil, Sean Quinn Lead Architect. 1164.

Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution. The goal is to design a zero environmental footprint and energy self-sufficiency using Living Building Challenge 2.0 guidelines. Photovoltaic and solar thermal panels cover the roof, tracing the sun through the day. Thin film PV shading devices line the windows, reduce glare and reflect light deeper into the interior. A modular system of algae tubes wrap the building and absorb the sun’s radiation, produce lipids for fuel, and shade interior office spaces.

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PAM (Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia) Centre, Malaysia.
Chew Teik Hee. 1170.

As a living entity this building becomes the breathable Malaysian Institute of Architects. The outer skin is a glass shell reinforced with octagonal frames and perforated with controllable openings. Modular bio-reactor panels are placed at openings along the inner facade. Algae is contained in continuous loop tubes, which are self-perpetuating and require minimal maintenance. Building components biomimic the stem-leaf mechanism of a tree, mimicing being in the shade of a tree.

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[Infra]Structural Algae Ecology for Taipei, Taiwan.
Aleksandrina Rizova & Richard Beckett. 1161.

This strategy is focused on minimizing the amount of newly built impervious surface by suggesting a porous intertwined network of transport infrastructure. Rain-water will be harvested through the porous urban fabric and recycled for horizontal and vertical farming. Algal photo-bioreactor towers will collect CO2 from vehicles and buildings. Horizontal layers of hydroponics systems will provide food for the city.

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BioOctonic Utility Tower, Zagreb, Croatia.
UPI-2M: A. Plestina, I. Zmisa, S, Marenic, M. Nikic, M. Gornik. 2119.

Designed for any city, these vertical farming towers are designed for production of bio-fuel and city air recuperation, to be placed on existing petrol stations. First façade layer of the tower is an outer skin layer which is a tubular system for the growth of algae. Design specifications of the BioOctonic Tower are: Location- any urban area in the world, Stories above ground- 30 floors. Stories below ground- 3 floors. Structure- reinforced and pre-stressed concrete.

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Algae Energy Exhibition Park, Jingzhou, Hubei, China.
Chen Jie & Gong Ying. 1159.

The site along the Hanjiang river in Jingzhou was a coal-fired power plant, with coal ash covering 50% of the whole area, severely impacting air, land, and water quality of the nearby communities. Treated CO2 from the industrial zone feeds the algae systems to produce energy for the park. The design of the algae park will provide the public a comfortable park and popularize the recovery of the environment using microalgae and alternative energy technology.

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Eco-Pod: Pre-Cycled Modular Algae Bioreactor, Boston.
Squared Design Lab: & Höweler+Yoon Architecture. 1172.

Eco-Pod is a temporary vertical algae bioreactor and public commons built with custom prefab modules. The pods serve as biofuel sources and as micro-incubators for R&D programs. As an open and reconfigurable structure, the voids between pods form a network of vertical public parks and botanical gardens housing unique plant species. An on-site robotic armature, powered by algae biofuel, will reconfigure the modules to maximize algae growth and accommodate changing needs.

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Ecologies of (Bio)Diversity: A Self Sustaining Tower for London.
David Edwards. 1142.

Ecologies of (Bio) Diversity. The building is a living ecology. Algal ‘fields’ coveing the facade absorb CO2 and can be harvested for bio methane for renewable energy for the tower and surrounding structures. The waste biomass through anaerobic digestion feeds the building skin. Waste water from the building is sent through the algae, cleaning it for re use. Surplus heat from the digestion and the tube beneath can be circulated through the tower in winter.

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Hydral Housing units with modular hydrogen producing panels.
Thomas Kosbau. 1186.

Hydrogen has long been viewed as a fuel source for a carbon emission free future. Modular panels of hydrogen producing algae can be placed like photo-voltaics. This second skin of algae panels constructs a quilted mosaic of color. This photosynthetic city of modular housing units create fresh water and reduce carbon emissions, without requiring occupants to change energy-consuming habits. The entire complex is sustained as a closed system.

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AlgÔ, or the regeneration of the Baie de Morlaix by seaweeds.
Isabelle Bardèche. 1124.

The Baie de Morlaix in Brittany, is regarded as one of the last French estuaries not totally destroyed by human impact. It is famous for its goemoniers, 19th century seaweed collectors who went to sea to gather seaweed for medical purposes and natural fertilizers for agriculture. Nowadays they have all but disappeared and the seaweed population is poor and damaged. AlgÔ is a proposed floating seaweed farm, a fiber concrete structure with aerogel insulation and natural ventilation.

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Contributing Sponsors


Evodos logo SWEvodos BV Separation Excellence. Totally Dewatering Algae. Alive. The ideal interface between growing and refining. It is Evodos’ mission to support our customers with the best products for mechanical separation at minimal energy consumption without chemicals or consumables.


NanoVLogoSNanoVoltaics (NVI) is an engineering services provider to the cleantech sector, focusing on commercialization of disruptive technologies and production methods. Nanotechnology offers solutions to the world’s resource problems and novel products for photovoltaics and biofuels.


SmartMicroLogoSmartMicrofarms technology will enable people globally to grow healthy foods locally, using affordable inputs. We research, develop, demonstrate, diffuse, and support flexible microcrop platforms that produce food and valuable co-products locally.


Algae AllianceAlgaeAlliance.com members Robert Henrikson and Mark Edwards are the creators and developers of this International Algae Competition. Their purpose is to expand and share a vision for algae in our future and create an open source algae community and collaboratory.