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UNDER MAINTENANCE

A Defensive Architecture | Nicholas Szczepaniak

I was always fascinated by dystopian and utopian projects. However, this kind of approach doesn’t seem to be highly approved in greek architecture schools. Thus, I am really thankful to my friend Stephen R. aka Future Giraffes who introduced me to this whole new world!

2009 winner of the President’s Medal Nicholas Szczepaniak gives us   a dystopia that intends to raise awareness over the consecuences of climate change. With a futuristic vision of a society that will live in miserable conditions if we don’t take more drastic steps to deal with climate change, Szczepaniak exposes unexpected readings of the built environment in the future.

Set in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, the project envisages a set of militarised coastal defence towers that perform multiple functions.

The principle role of the towers is to act as an environmental warning device. The architecture is alive, dramatizing shifts in environmental conditions; breathing, creaking, groaning, sweating and crying when stressed. Air-bags on the face of the towers expand and contract, while hundreds of tensile trunks are sporadically activated, casting water on to the heated facades to produce steam. An empty watchtower at the top of each tower gives them the impression that the fragile landscape below is constantly being surveyed.

Across the estuary, a bed of salt marshes provides a natural form of flood defence and habitats for wildlife. Due to rising water levels and adverse weather conditions, the salt marshes are quickly deteriorating. The proposal suggests how megastructures can be integrated and used to encourage the growth of natural defence mechanisms against flooding in order to protect the erosion of fragile coastline areas and our most important cities. Over time, sand is collected at the base of each tower to form a spit across the mouth of the estuary, absorbing energy from the waves.

Internally, the towers serve as a vast repository for mankinds most valuable asset; knowledge. The architecture is a knowledge ark, which protects books from culminative and catastrophic deterioration.

source: president’s medals

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2011 by in architecture.
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