Full PDF Proposal
To re-conceptualize the network of information generated by the mobile hunting camp modules, the mobile responsive hunting camp module will be utilized to collect data throughout the Atchafalaya, to create a data visualization, dynamic art installation in the city of Baton Rouge, expanding the network of readable information. The design intends to represent a data visualization of dissolved oxygen [DO] content in real-time using a dynamic surface infrastructure and light system that responds to assigned variables in real-time.
The modules collect data based off of research done by LSU professors, Kaler, Kelso, Halloran and Rutherford, ‘Effects of spatial scale on assessment of dissolved oxygen dynamics in the Atchafalaya River Basin, Louisiana,’ Hydrobiologia 2011 . To determine factors [variables] contributing to high and low areas of dissolved oxygen, the modules would sense water temperature, river stage height, current velocity and water depth.
Of these four variables, current velocity is the most significant in effecting the dissolved oxygen content. Although, these are the measurable variables for levels of dissolved oxygen, the physical changes throughout this morphological landscape creating these conditions are increased sediment deposition, reduced riverine inputs and altered floodplain circulation.
Thus, resulting in low levels of dissolved oxygen and increased dissolved oxygen stratification, which are indicators of hypoxic and eutrophic conditions.
To represent this transparent striation of dissolved oxygen content, we are proposing an interface to visualize the data in the Downtown area of Baton Rouge. The site is the old shipping dock just South of the I-10 freeway along the East bank of the river.
The existing infrastructure will be employed to support the dynamic surface made of translucent fabric. The horizontal surface is manipulated above, vertically by mechanics in response to water velocity and the lights would brighten and dim in response to changing levels of DO.
The site is significant because of its relationship to the Mississippi River and the larger landscape. The annual flood pulse and water stage height is the primary constituent to levels of DO throughout the basin. A relationship can be drawn throughout the year by the height and form of the surface to the height of the Mississippi River.
The translucency of the fabric overhead and its constant shifting movement would perform the effect of being underwater and experiencing aquatic conditions. The installation would respond to the variables assigned and lower or rise in reaction to levels of DO.
In order to make the space relatable to urban methodologies, the space would be assigned movements that relate to socio-behavioral psychologies. Areas amplified by current velocity and higher levels of DO would create pathways of fluid pedestrian movement and larger open areas for gathering.
Areas portraying lower current velocity and DO levels would sink to form low points in the fabric, creating areas that are not navigable or inhabitable and would obstruct movement.
The temporal movement would reflect slight day-to-day changes but would be more representative of seasonal changes especially during annual flood pulses when there is a large influx of oxygenated water. The deviations of the surface would be the most noticeable from within the space but also legible from a distance.
This data visualization dynamic installation would be an ambient space that people visiting, living or working in Baton Rouge could experience the environment on different levels. A relationship would form between the state of the structure and the time of day, time of month, seasonal changes, flood pulses and water stage height.
A working prototype was built in order to help understand the spatial and formal relationships created through the ever changing installation. The prototype served as a diagram to explore the sequence of change through time, the effectiveness of the spatial conditions created and an understanding of scale. We were able to accomplish this by utilizing technologies such as the Arduino hardware along with visual coding software, Grasshopper, and Firefly.
To achieve the mechanics of manipulating movement of the surface, miniature servo motors were used to turn gear wheels that in turn moved rods in the verticle direction. Stocking mesh was attached to the bottom ends of the rods to form a grid to attach the surface.
As a representation of the sensing technologies that would be utilized, light sensors were used in order to control the dynamic model. Each individual sensor drove a particular servo motor. The sensors were laid out onto a board to create a sensor field which users could run their hands over to create a shadow effect over the sensor which in turn moved the servo motor.
A field of LED lights were aslo driven by the light sensors. The brightness of the lights change in relation to the data input from the light sensors. This effect would allow the surface to become visible during the evening and accentuate areas of high and low dissoled oxygen content.
Full PDF Proposal
Vacuolar Effluvia Genesis, if following the dictionary, is defined by the sequestration of a waste product or harmful substance as to create something new.
Everyday 2.16 million pounds of nitrate based fertilizer enters the Atchafalaya Basin before continuing downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. After entering the basin these anthropogenic nutrients have an effect that is common around the world, hyper-eutrophication by way of algae bloom.
Eutrophication is the natural oscillation in aerobic microbial decomposition and dissolved oxygen in aquatic ecosystems. With the introduction of these pollutants from upstream excessive growth of suspended algae occurs. As the massive amount algae dies and descends the water column they are consumed by the microbes (also consuming oxygen) causing a spike in both the rate of decomposition (positive) and the amount of dissolved oxygen (negative) resulting in a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia is a leading cause of fish kills such as the ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico directly south of the Basin.
The original concept of this project was to define the asymptote between the microbial decomposition and dissolved oxygen curves to maintain ecosystem health. Using a hyper-efficient ecosystem management (strategy developed in the earlier phase of this project, ECOLIBRIUM) that takes advantage of real time data modeling technology we are able to track eutrophication throughout the basin making micro interventions where necessary. These interventions are made possible by sequestering the process of microbial decomposition of algae into a synthetic plant-like structure. The amalgamation of these units allows for an appropriately scaled response to each hypoxic event.
After being deployed to an area of potential hypoxia these units will use a dissolved oxygen sensor to initiate sequestration at the threshold of five p.p.m. (parts per million) dissolved oxygen.
Utilizing a root-like system of tubes dispersed throughout the water column this unit will collect algae saturated water subsequently housing the process of microbial decomposition within a concentrated series of tubes. At the end of the decomposition cycle (average of 14 days) there are three by-products biogas, mineral matter, and water. The mineral matter and water are deposited back into the environment. The biogas is collected in a series of pockets. As more gas is collected these structure rises into a full dome supported only by the gas within each pocket creating a very dramatic visual indicator of gas production and environmental health.
At that point the units are ready to be harvested. The gas that is collected, generally 500-600 liters of gas per 1000 liters of algae saturated water, can be taken to a biogas facility where it can be converted into butanol, a fuel than can be used in any gasoline based motor.
Rapid physical prototyping allowed for the concept developed in this project to be tested and changed. Utilizing new technologies interfacing between digital modeling software and sensor driven models a working model was developed at the end of the project to display, in real time, the pneumatic functions of the unit.
The project makes aware several invisible or over looked phenomena. First is the idea of a more eloquent and less obtrusive approach to ecosystem management. The second is the visualization of hyper-eutrophication within the Atchafalaya Basin. The third is the extraction of a renewable resource from the environment that was previously not utilized. These three implications will foster a connection between people and the Atchafalaya Basin in a new and mutually beneficial way.
The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest swamp in the United States and is one of the most ecologically rich areas in the world. The Red River and the Mississippi River both flow into the Atchafalaya Basin. Where the Mississippi River and Atchafalaya River meet sits the Old River Control Structure. Finished in 1963 to help deal with flooding in major cities of Louisiana, the structure diverts thirty percent of the Mississippi River’s water flow and sixty-five percent of its sediment flow into the Atchafalaya River. The Atchafalaya River discharges into the Atchafalaya Bay via the Wax Lake Delta and the Atchafalaya Delta, and then empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
Due to the excess flow of sediment and nutrients, these areas are experiencing a significant increase in land formation while the rest of the Louisiana coast is in decline. While there is a surplus of sediment and land building, due to flow of the river, dredging, and weather patterns, most of the sediment is lost to the Gulf of Mexico. To counteract this process, a sediment transportation pod modification system will be introduced at the Old River Control Structure. This system would harness the existing sediment load and convey it downriver, creating a greater concentration of deposited sediment which would expedite the natural land building process. In addition to providing a more concentrated sediment load, this process will create a sensor network that allows for a mapping of deposition patterns.
The conveyance system is comprised of two units, one being an extrusion module that will be integrated into the existing Old River Control Low Sill Structure, and the other being a pod that is released from the extrusion module after a predetermined amount of sediment is captured.
The pod has two main components; the transportation mesh which is filled with sediment, and an inflated ballonet made of biodegradable material. A corrosive metal clamp is secured to the rear opening of both components sealing the inflated portion and the transportation mesh. Another important feature of the ballonet is a sewn-in RF sensor which allows the pods to be tracked. Once the pod reaches saltwater, the metal clamp undergoes the process of galvanic corrosion, causing the clamp to deteriorate, deflating the pod which results in it falling to the river floor. The pods will begin to create a framework of support for the channels as they deposit, forming a more concentrated sediment load by reducing the amount of sediment that is lost to the Gulf of Mexico. The pods will biodegrade in approximately four weeks while the RF sensor remains, and can be tracked by Coast Guard and Wild Life and Fishery boats, creating a traceable network of the sediment being deposited.
Over time, this process will build land south of Morgan City at the Wax Lake and Atchafalaya Delta’s at an expedited rate, increasing the area for wildlife, vegetation, and surge protection. The process will also reduce the amount of dredging needed by floating pass the problem areas in the river which will increase the amount of sediment deposition in the Atchafalaya Bay. It will also create a real-time mapping of the sediment deposition, which helps identify areas of the greatest sediment accretion, and also where the deposition process is being impeded so the system may be adjusted to achieve the most efficient results.
The proposal for this project expands on several discrete aspects of the City Sense project Ecolibrium. Ecolibrium proposed utilizing real time data sensing in the Atchafalaya basin to convert negative ecological problems into positive byproducts with the intention of providing more ecological resiliency, or fitness, to these negative problems as they are managed in the future. Currently, certain ecological processes, directly resulting from current or past human intervention, have detrimental effects on the basin. The ecological processes investigated within Ecolibrium are algae blooms, excessive water hyacinth populations, and sedimentation. This proposed land management project takes into account the fluctuations of these processes throughout the year in both their negative effects as well as the opportunity for positive byproducts through management, focusing specifically on algae and water hyacinth. Managing land building in the Atchafalaya Basin redefines land-building strategies, and focuses on a nuanced, calculated approach to utilize biomass generated from algae and water hyacinth as a land building substrate.
Several ecological issues arise from the excess of algae and water hyacinth growth in the Atchafalaya Basin. If this plant material benefits from the nutrients and agricultural runoff that flows into the basin and the vegetation thrives, it creates hypoxic conditions for underwater fauna. These hypoxic conditions, marked with depleted underwater oxygen levels, create massive fish kills and offset the normal ecological balance. The basin has also suffered the detrimental effects of altered hydrology, stemming from human interventions for logging and oil and gas exploitation. This altered hydrology has resulted in erosion and changes in sedimentation patterns, resulting in land loss.
This project provides an alternative to traditional land building methodologies – the typical paradigm is permanent, cumbersome, and unable to react to change. The Army Corps of Engineers, for example, approaches land and land building as simply another infrastructural element – one to be analyzed, sited, built, and maintained when necessary – when in reality, land is part of a living, fluctuating ecological system, and must be managed as such. Utilizing real time data to drive land building locations and patterns allows a responsive environment, capable of functioning at a micro scale and reacting to macro system changes. In this project, sensors located throughout the basin provide real time fertilizer inputs and quantify where land building substrate is available throughout the basin. Additionally, by specifically locating where this biomass substrate is available and in what quantities, an average location of these points shows where land building could most efficiently occur.
The real time data sensing is investigated within this project at a number of scales and time periods. Within the Atchafalaya Basin, ecological systems fluctuate based on inputs from millions of influences. Within the scope of this project, it was necessary to understand some specific factors that relate to the growth and management of the major ecological systems.
In order to provide this real time data, sensing network of three different scales is employed to sense the large picture, zoom in, and finally sense at a micro, nuanced scale. These scales each imply a different time scale of sensing as well. By sensing this data at a variety of scales and times, a wholistic model of real time data is able to be interpolated to provide a glimpse into any given moment in the basin.
The data that this sensing model provides is dynamic and fluctuates according to normal yearly trends as well as unseasonal and unexpected events and systems. Expected year-ly trends may include the seasonal flooding of the basin in the spring of each year, due to the snow melt.
Unseasonal or unexpected events may be storms, ecological pestilence, or industrial accidents.
In addition to the macro cycles on which these different data inputs fluctuate, the sensing model is also able to sense and identify micro changes in real time. Within each of these data criteria, minor fluctuations due to daily or even hourly micro-adjustments have an affect on the macro system. The real time data sensing model is able to pick up on these changes and provides a tool with which to aide programming and design.
Figure #1 depicts the interface between the computer, arduino, and sensing model to help develop the typology and land building rules. This model offers an effective scale to sense the nuanced, micro scale changes and how they affect the macro systems.
In addition to the data fluctuations, the rules that govern the land building are dynamic as well. This type of calibration model requires a feedback loop of real time data sensing, land building, programming, and critique. The goals and rules of the land building strategy may be in flux until a best management solution has been reached. This hypothetically may take a number of months or years to perfect.
All of these various land building models were prototyped with a combination of arduino, grasshopper, rhinoceros, and City Engine modeling software. The arduino and grasshopper interface provided a basic environment in which to program the basic rules were investigated, and City Engine offered additional parameters with which to understand these rule relationships.
This land building will occur according to a series of typologies and rules that reflect the context of the basin near the current location of the land building point. Three land typologies in the Atchafalaya basin: edge, open water, and fragmented, have been identified and are reflected in the land building process. Additional rules within each typology guide the creation of land in reaction to more specific real time data at a site scale. The factors for determining the rules at the local scale may include more specific spacing, connecting, height, and proximity characteristics than the typological rules. The process for determining some of these rules involved utilizing scaled sensing models of the basin to provided a means of physical study of real time data inputs. Additionally, incorporating City Engine software into this investigation may provide another tool for effective parametric modeling to aid in the adaptation of land building rules. As shown in Figure #2, it was necessary to investigate an interface between the grasshopper enviornment and the City Engine environment in order to further understand the land building rules. Ultimately, all of these typologies and rules come together in a loop for ecological fitness and efficient land building, driven by the programming sequence of rules and typologies, and supplemented by feedback from the real time sensing data that updates in response to changing site conditions.
As technology continues to advance into the 21st century, humans are being provided with increasingly efficient and intelligent options to man-age increasingly complex operations and relationships. Real time data and its ability to interface with these new technological devices offer promising opportunities for ecological land management strategies in the Atchafalaya Basin. This new way of managing land building contradicts the contemporary belief that ecological infrastructure must be static and lifeless. Rather, these new pieces of ecological infrastructure offer a nuanced and dynamic footprint of land building that actively manages biological nuisances in ways that result in positive outcomes for both ecological resiliency and ultimately human use and inhabitation.
The Atchafalaya Basin is a vast tract of cypress swamp, which occupies approximately 3000 square miles of the southern Louisiana coast. This project re-conceptualizes the use of static infrastructure to manage an unforgiving and ever changing ecosystem such as the Atchafalaya Basin. The project develops a multi-scalar network of sensing technology to create a real time model of the phenomena that drive the Atchafalaya Basin. The sensing network collects and analyzes data to monitor prevalent issues such as land loss, hyper-eutrophication, and invasive species populations. This real time data model is then used to manage ecological fitness through micro adjustments to environmental phenomena. The model is continually updated allowing the management to occur in small steps that are then propagated to large-scale changes across the ecological system that comprises the Atchafalaya Basin.
Historically, the city has been defined as infrastructure, service, politics, economics, and people without considering the ecosystem in which it resides. This proposal is a critique of that definition and focuses on creating a hyper efficient ecology. This hyper efficiency benefits human settlement across vast regions through the management of resources and protection of fragile habitat. In an area currently littered by remnant infrastructural elements such as levees, canals and static land management practices this new paradigm offers a radically different alternative to current practice.
Current land and water management strategies lack flexible and/or real time responses creating the need for a new system that is completely self-sufficient, autonomous, and systematic. By manipulating sediment, invasive species, and algae blooms according to fluctuating needs analyzed by a real time data network, the hydrology and ecology of the basin is managed down to the particle scale. This new ecosystem management strategy leaves a dynamic pattern in the landscape, one that is continuously computed and updated.
The Atchafalaya Basin offers a unique laboratory for the development of this concept. It receives thirty percent of the Mississippi River’s flow at the Old River Control structure increasing the overall nutrient and sediment loads entering the Basin from up river. This addition of excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff and suspended sediment along with devastating forestry practices of the mid-twentieth century and flood infrastructure elements has lead to an unbalanced ecosystem and the increase of certain issues. The issues that this project highlights are siltation and deforestation, invasive water hyacinth control, and hyper-eutrophication due to excessive algae growth. The significant number of flora and fauna that are supported by the Basin are influenced by these highlighted issues and are a vital resource to the Acadian people of the area and to the economy of the surrounding cities. To rebalance the ecosystem and provide a positive gain for the involved communities in this new system of ecological management is employed to regulate and harness the biological resources present.
The Ecolibrium project implements two major interwoven procedures: sensing and maintaining. The multi-scaled sensing network, which provides the basis for the real-time ecological model of the Basin, consists of four entities, the last one of which uniquely performs the physical maintenance. To begin with, satellite technology is used to create the basis for the model. LIDAR and aerial photography is analyzed on a daily schedule. On a two-day cycle, aerial drones which are usually Drones with cameras attached to them collect bathymetry, topography, wildlife concentrations, and the vegetation mosaic of a four square mile grid of GPS coordinates. For the last layer of real time information, a grid of sensor buoys and moving processor units collect and analyze local data, such as nutrient loads (nitrogen and phosphorous), dissolved oxygen levels, water velocity, total dissolved solids (suspended sediment), temperature, among other things.
However, the processor units are distinctive in that, while providing extra detail in data coverage, they physically intervene in either sediment distribution or the growth of water hyacinth and algae. The complexity of data attained from the various scales of sensing entities allows for issues in the Basin to be quantified and interpolated, yielding a complete ecological picture. This data is continuously collected, analyzed, and used to make system decisions, which are then relayed to the processor units to physically intervene in real time succession. The multiple scales of sensing offer greater understanding into the complex systems that make up an ecology, as well as a greater degree of accuracy into what drives change in these systems. The accuracy of the sensing network and the interventions is necessary to a tenuous ecosystem.
Sediment is the lifeblood of any wetland environment where a few inches determine whether an area is constantly flooded or just seasonal inundated as well as which type of plant community can be supported. The Ecolibrium system physically intervenes in initially disadvantageous occurrences in the Basin, such as concentrated siltation and non-native species overgrowth, and it transforms them into advantageous productions, such as micro-reforestation and habitat construction. Figure #1 (right) represents a diagrammatic expression of each of the processes performed in the Ecolibrium system based on excessive algae, sedimentation, or water hyacinth. For example, when altered hydrology due to excessive siltation is registered, the new system removes sediment from problematic areas and relocates it by sonic wave technology to an area where it is needed. The processor unit, unique in its form, flexible in its use and self-organizing arrangement, can cluster, expand, and contract to perform various functions. In groups of expanded units, they emit micro-pulses of sonic waves to dissolve the substrate in places where siltation is undesirable. Using the same sonic wave technology, the unlinked processor units work together to route the dissolved substrate and also any excess suspended sediment from upstream toward areas detected for erosion or land subsidence. The processor subsequently ionizes the suspended sediment, causing it to compact in place and to form the substrate for the new constructed land.
The studio was divided into two phases, in the first 5 weeks the students developed proposals for the City Sense competition. The students were asked to imagine how realtime sensing technologies would affect the basin in terms of settlement, ecosystem management and/or infrastructural strategies. Three site prototypes were selected as a cross section of settlement types; Morgan City (urban), Butte LaRose (rural), and the Hunting Camp (isolated).
The students worked in teams to submit 4 strong proposals. In general the proposals were broad but engaged the content nicely, I was surprised by the variety which was nice to see. One of the strongest proposals was entitled Ecolibrium that proposed a realtime visualization and management system that would create a new ecological equilibrium based on a system over hyper inputs.
Phase 01 Competition Proposals
The second Phase of the semester focused on getting the students more intimately involved with some of the responsive technologies prototyping hardware/software such as Arduino, Firefly and Grasshopper. Earlier in the first weeks of the semester the students had a chance to meet with Andy Payne when we were on a field trip to Cambridge/Boston and they were very excited about the possibilities that have been enabled using Firefly.
The students focused on tools for approximately two weeks working intensively with Michael McCune and David Merlin from DOTS here in Baton Rouge. The students engaged the technologies as they designed a device that would engaged environmental phenomena and begin to manipulate either the phenomena, space and/or ecological systems. This involved three stages.
The studio was extremely rewarding and I was really proud of the student’s work. The final review asked the students to re-imagine the original competition proposals in smaller teams. The final review guide can be found here.
The course page contains a brief syllabus and description of the phases. I will post some of the student projects in subsequent posts, links below.
The studio was filled with other great proposals as well, if I have time I will try to post as many as possible. The full set of proposals are in the linked PDF.]]>
One of the most interesting aspects of the discussions has been focused around the processes of negotiation that occur as we move between forms of representation and site definition. This centers around two scales of negotiation, the first is understanding the transfer of site data. As information is moved between models it requires a strategy of retention and filtering that critically examines the building blocks for each landscape interpretation. The group work that produced the physical models created the other interesting moment of negotiation that forced each participant to advocate for their phenomena’s position within the larger system.
As always the student work was impressive as I look back on it, particularly in terms of quality and quantity in such a short time period. A draft of the paper presented is here.]]>
More to Come …]]>
The first is submissions for KERB 19. Abstracts are due Feb 28th with full manuscripts due March 14th.
One Prize is requesting proposals examining the NYC Harbor and rivers as the sixth borough. I would love to put some thought into this topic.
If you haven’t already taken a look then the constructing realities exhibition is worth seeing. The materials online are great and there is more info over at Interactive Architecture.
Justin Goodyer: Adaptive Bloom – Bartlett School of Architecture from Ruairi Glynn on Vimeo.]]>