Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

Refuge Model S

Phyto-remediation + Bio-remediation

Published onOct 28, 2019
Refuge Model S

Presentation Slides:

World Bible:

Frame base

In researching San Francisco and realizing the importance of the San Francisco Bay in relation to the transportation systems, environmental sustainability, and ecologies of the west coast the focus of the project became reactive to the current environmental state. Treasure Island was noticed having high levels of radiation throughout the site and layers of unprocessable heavy metals within the soil underlying the concrete cap known as the sidewalks and roads of the island. The imagining future human will use a collection of remediative processes, such as Phytoremediation, Bioremediation, and Water and Air filtration systems. The system takes the contaminated elements and works to purify then release them back into our world of finite resources. It has become a statement of the scale necessary in order to make up for and effectively combat the level of disregard us—as humans—have had for the plant and the environment which we live in.

Urban background

Currently, architecture and ecosystems are at odds. Even though humans see beauty, necessity, and enjoyment in both the built and in beautiful nature, our current mode of building the city is incompatible with nature. Likewise, the way we currently structure our nature reserves is incompatible with human use or habitation. Our society is tumbling towards a global ecological catastrophe, and if we do not suddenly find more terrain to replant the forests, wetlands, and prairies that we have usurped to craft our reality, then we will all have to make drastic changes to our personal economies, lifestyles, favorite foods, etc.

Emerging environmental issue

The picturesque Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the hub of California’s water supply, supplying fresh water to two-thirds of the state’s population and millions of acres of farmland. Saltwater from the San Francisco Bay mixes with fresh water from the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and other rivers to create the largest estuary on the West Coast.


As a result of a disagreements with how pollution is treated today: either it is capped on the site, or it is put in a landfill. Both of these options (while considered final solutions by the EPA and society at-large, are not sustainable long term. The construction of landfills in general is a short sighted solution and just puts a temporary solution in place which will require remediation in the future.

One of the main problems with this decentralized hidden system is that mankind have been thrust into participation in this global assemblage of economy, technology, and industry – they do not seek to continue this unknowing condition. I want it to be clear and apparent, and part of a true participation with the processes at hand.

New type of infrastructure

While architects do create architecture, the majority of the design does not focus on the specificity of the spaces we create. Instead, it is time to have it more focused on the design of the system and how it functions as an infrastructure. I propose an architecture to the point that the spaces can fulfill the requirements – a performative architecture.

Here in lies a critique of architecture as it relates to sustainability. Too many buildings focus on their function as a discrete occurrence. A truly sustainable architecture is one which considers the way in which it throws systems of production and manufacture into motion. By considering the holistic system of the building, human can truly approach an architecture which is dynamically related to the material and systematic context of its existence.

Design Consideration

Space on the planet is zero sum (there are conflicts for space on the surface on the planet). I wish to creating a self-replicating infrastructure with a long time scale. This proposal is for a monument to the Anthropocene and in an attempt to concentrate the Anthropocene into one architectural object. As a result of the desire to open up new land for ecosystem services without destroying parts of the city which already exist.


Phyto-remediation entitles a group of technologies that grow plants in a matrix cleanup soils, sludge, sediments and water contaminated with organic and inorganic contaminants. The plants can be subsequently harvested, processed and disposed.

The uptake of contaminants in plants occurs primarily through the root system, in which the principal mechanisms for preventing contaminant toxicity are found. The root system provides an enormous surface area that absorbs and accumulates the water and nutrients essential for growth, as well as other non-essential contaminants.

Final Prototype

Built to completion over millennia, the overall infrastructure will be a tower 3D printed by a fleet of concrete truck sized potter-bots. Within this tower caves and caverns of excavated remediated soil will eventually become home to a waffling system which contain a multitude of research labs tasked with helping decontaminate the earth’s soil. Hoisted throughout the tower and transported form chamber to chamber a stock of Phytoremediation Pods can be researched more in depth by an innumerable collection of researchers and environmentalists.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?