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Venus – BCN
Bioclimatic Vertical sea garden skyscraper

The site: An Alternative to Barcelona at the sea

– Main concept and uses
The site selected for the Skyscraper is located right into the Mediterranean Sea, off the Barcelona Waterfront, creating a grand vertical visual icon at the end of the Diagonal avenue in Barcelona, an urban axe cutting the city grid in a NE-SW angle and finishing right on the sea shore. It is erected on an artificial fill, a man-made peninsula, giving base to a composite complex of three intertwined towers, which are all entering a marine dominion, maybe representing utopia, yet not an impossible gesture to extend the city, using a vertical element in a metropolis (Barcelona), while simultaneously giving an end, which turns toward the sky, to this urban axe, fulfilling an old desired intention but in an unconventional manner. It intends to be a small vertical city facing the horizontal metropolis of Barcelona – in search of a skyline icon - and an alternative space solution for many physically-displaced people, victims of the present and rapid urbanism on the city Waterfront, in search of prime real-estate and city marketing - recently represented in grand gestures, such as the construction of the enormous Forum of Cultures complex in 2004 - and to younger and older generations of economically-displaced ones, forced to leave the city because of exploding housing value, and in search of more financially accessible dwellings. It will somehow double as a sort of a huge rescue ship for a different type of refuge: The one created by fast shake-and-bake urbanisation. In order to fulfil its purpose, it will provide all necessities and services a conventional community needs, including commercial, medical and social ones, and will represent a not-too-far into the future hope: To adopt the sea as a space of living, and as such it is formally inspired on marine zoology and resources still found in the Mediterranean sea, taking advantage of all environmental qualities it can provide through the use of high-tech ecology and technology.

As a mixed-use structure, it will incorporate into its uses an Institute of Marine Research and a Marine station, where renewable marine resources will be investigated. Transportation in and from the mainland city will be assured by a public transportation link, but also by a car-pool station, where dwellers can profit of the use of on-a-shared basis rental car system, on a case-by-case required need. Renting a flat will also mean renting a right to use a car, and the first lower levels located inside the land-fill will be reserved for parking use of these vehicles. Some other functions are also incorporated; such a hotel and some office spaces, as well as restaurants and entertaining areas at the top levels, including a vertical park with panoramic views overlooking the city. The same city that pushed this other [vertical] one to go into the sea.

The City: An exploding metropolis in search of global capital suffering depressed density

The metropolitan area of Barcelona is a dense city area with a population of aprox. 4,5 million inhabitants in a 589 square km territory. The city’s density at its centre is dramatically decreasing, due to the astronomically increasing prize for housing and business rentals. The Poble Nou district, located by the only untouched waterfront, and housing most of the city’s industrial past, had so far escaped to this trend and is now suffering tremendous redefinition in term of uses after its de-industrialization. From its former industrial (textile) uses, it is presently becoming the city’s target for new mixed uses, including new services (high-technologies), and prime real estate housing.

The construction of the Forum Complex - located at the very end of the Diagonal Avenue - intends to be the new platform for civic actions. All the transformation of this area, plus the image of Barcelona as seen from the sky, will dramatically change in a few years time. The proposed long-planned end to the Diagonal avenue is presently still under construction. A few signature architects high-rise buildings have already been built along this avenue, including [Jean Nouvel’s] Agbar tower, in addition to two hotels and some office towers. It is furthermore expected that in the future, it will be the ground of a high number of even more skyscrapers. speculation.

This – from the real estate point of view – is the only logical possible area to economically exploit the soil, and to expand the city though fast and vertical urbanization, being the Harbour (Zona Franca) areas and the logistic industrial parks grounds around the airport the only other service areas which cannot be attractive for further housing
Barcelona’s topography is greatly limited by the sea, the two rivers on each side of it, and by the mountains of Collserola and Montjuich, and thus the city is in search of new construction grounds. With the exception of the new Poble Nou high-rise developments, the height of most buildings in the city is rather a Parisian/European low one, giving an uniform vertical profile and due to the strict norms ruling the city’s zoning and urban plans, ever since the expansion beyond the city walls (Plan Cerdà) started in 1860. Thus, extreme verticality when buildings in Barcelona has always historically regarded purely as a speculative way to gain (until recently) unnecessary space in the city, and simultaneously as a mean to loose the precious and always treasured human scale present in Barcelona. After years of rapid urbanization and urban sprawl over the surrounding territory, there is no more spaces left for public parks or some green places outside of the old city. We now see this horizontality further spreading over with more and more concrete, and we ask ourselves if it makes any sense to continue building the landscape in an indiscriminate manner, while this urban landscape seems to be simultaneously sliced-up. For these reasons we propose that, in the case of Barcelona, a different and radical solution - implementing the presently desired vertical density - be on a diverse and very defined site, off the city, into the sea and with the addition of some technical innovations, which are learned directly from nature. Following the principle of skyscrapers’ building, if the footprint of our building is smaller, we will occupy less space, but we also can help nature to re-settle.

The Skin: From the nano to the macro scale structure

We got inspired by deep-sea sponges, a deep beneath the sea complex glass structure, a marvel of natural engineering. We tried to apply our findings from this organism on a high-rise building, to create marine vertical structures, looking as garden towers, using a skin made of optical fibre and fibreglass, beyond a conventional steel and concrete structure. The three skyscrapers intend to be a new type of bioclimatic buildings, in total mimesis with natural organisms, inhabitants of the deep sea around them. The double skin is composed by two layers containing a third layer of suspended vegetation, becoming a new type of urban vertical agriculture. The Venus BCN skyscrapers structures will also be ecological and self energy sufficient, having a highly positive, repairing and productive results for the saturated urban environment, a totally sustainable design. For this reason we propose an intelligent use of energy, water and waste. This will be accomplished by way of a green bioclimatic envelope, which controls temperature, sun exposure and ventilation, so the use of cooling and heating is kept to a minimum, atmosphere water collector systems are implemented over the outer skin, plus the use of biogas from the nearby purification plant, as energy resource stored at the sky lobbies of each module. A waste recycling facility could be incorporated into the base, at the bottom of the sea level, connected to the purification plant. A nearby sea wave power station, plus an eolic plant on the shore, could be alternative energy resources for electricity in the future. The proximity of sea salt could be used for the cooling system.


The Materials: Using Biomimetics, nature engineering principles and its applications in new material technologies.


The outer skin structure will be made of fibreglass, same as used in sea ship construction, and other materials such as silica and optical fibre, with a steel core. The fibres that will comprise The Venus BCN skyscrapers’ skeleton is composed using a lattice, open criss-cross pattern, its reinforcement being made by fibres running diagonally in opposite directions, within alternate squares across the pattern. This construction technique will help counteracting shear stress, which can easily make a non-reinforced high-rise structure collapse. The Venus BCN skyscrapers is divided in 6 segments on different slanted angles, which rotate themselves each at a 60, 120, and 180 degrees in relationship to the gravity centre. Each segment has a different use and remains as an independent element within the main structure. The joint between each of the segments is reinforced by a large open space, which doubles as a refuge zone also housing energy management facilities. It will also serve as a Sky Lobby. While the towers have different inclinations, only the elevator core remains as a central straight structure all the way to the top, a gravity centre giving further structural stability to the towers. There will be 10 elevators in each of the cores and four Sky Lobbies. At the end we will have three shiny organic skins, which will emulate a live marine organism, varying from blue, purple to green tones, depending on the sun rays hit angle and varying with the seasons, and in this way it will glow at night, acting as a new type of lighthouse, which can equally be seen from approaching ships and planes. It will always change its colours, also depending on environmental conditions such as pollution or UV levels. The outside structure will also act as a conductor of energy and information - due to the nature of fibreglass and optical fibre utilized of the outer skin - so the building will simultaneously be a receptacle and a conductor of electricity and telecommunication for its own use. It intends to manage this energy and store it at energy management facilities, which will function as batteries and will distribute such energy according to specific need along the day and night. While being a vertical space for dwelling, working, relaxing and learning, it will also be its own factory of resource needs. A concept for future vertical structures, built not against the laws of nature, but rather following its principles.

 

 

_06 skyscraper VenusBcn
spanish version

 

_05 panel.ONG

 

 

 

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_05_girona22
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_07 CEIP morfojoc
_07 escola bressol rubí
_07 piscina premia