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B.1/0.CEMENT: BioCities / architecture / bio-computationSeptember 29, 2015


Liwa Oasis - the southernmost settlement of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates - has went through its vicissitude in the desert region for over centuries. Rolling sand dunes, which stretches from the south coast of Arabian Gulf to the unbroken and uninhabited sands of the State of Quarter, cover almost the whole territory. Compared to other regions of the UAE which are enriched upon the oil business, Liwa is rather impoverished. Nevertheless, due to that the unique geomorphology catalyzes the tourism, during last decades, the wealth is on the rise.
The Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan, issued by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), has been established to optimize the city planning through a long-time environ- mental program of urban evolution. In doing so, it is laying the foundations for a socially cohesive and economically sus- tainable community that preserves the Emirate’s uniqueness.
B. 1/O. CEMENT harnesses local resources such as microalgae in the local fish ponds and sand within the Rub Al Khali de- sert in UAE and combines them together to generate a biolog- ical composite. Borrowing the material technology from the medical industry, our version of bio-cement is a process of concreting sand by the biorhythms of cyanobacteria. Utilizing sand and microalgae as the two main raw materials, the pro- ject site within the UAE region becomes the best test bench for the development of this material system at both archi- tectural and urban scale. The project aims to ascertain the capabilities and limits of our material system in influencing the life in the UAE, and propose a long-term urban developing structure that activate human settlement within the desert, thus, response such mentioned environmental urban evolution.
One of the vital facets of bio-cement project suggests a social participation, which would enable the bio-cement to provincialize structurally and functionally, not only on the environmental but also the anthropogenic aspect. It is a consensus that the UAE lacks water resources. This has been becoming increasingly overwhelming, especially dur- ing last decades due to the tourism booming, the available water resources could support neither the irrigation, the traditional income source for the locals, nor the liveli- hoods. Thus, this project targets the opportunities emerged from water system – the microalgae subsisting and breed- ing in local water-recycle ponds - correspondingly emerges the optimistic environmental stratagems of rational resource utilization and then benefits to the inhabitants. .
Architecture wise, this project is to study the morpholog- ical generation of bio-cement in relation to the constantly evolving landscape in Liwa Oasis. Therefore, the morphologi- cal determinants of dunes are necessarily to be expatiated. For instance, the wind from the Persian Gulf frames dunes and erodes the construction in the UAE region all-year-around. So wind, as an essential component of contributing the local urban fabric, needs to be analyzed. Additionally, it is the relationship between constructions and human demands which is also the core of this project, the humanized design ide- ology, such as the intelligentized design tool – drones and the mass-participation-design website, has been taken place.
In order to understand and visualize the research, digi- tal simulations and analog modeling are the key to the de- sign procedures. They are both structured upon an individu- al algorithm by starting from certain specific inputs, and then critically reflect on the outcomes. Based on the feed- backs, the merits and demerits of the algorithm are eval- uated and thus are used in sublimating the next modeling.
The bio-cement project, after all, suggests a rela- tively integrated material system for the UAE life that effectively cohere the UAE unique-landscape-fea- tures with its social context and carry forwards an en- vironmentally and economically sustainable community. 


studio tutors:

Student team:
Chunyi CHEN, Yilin ZHOU, Ying HU, Han LIU, Wenzhe YE

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B.I/O.CEMENT - Material Urbanism - Urban Morphogenesis Lab 2014/15

Bio cement group video from ying on Vimeo.