Funnel-scraper, San Francisco

CTBUH International Student Design Competition 2021

Waste-to-Energy Urban Power Plant

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an accumulation of marine debris across the North Pacific Ocean, which has been an over-50-years threat to marine ecosystem. The patch spanned across the West Coast of America to Japan comprises mainly of average 100 feet thick microplastics and non-biodegradable litters, approximately 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean- twice the size of Texas, and thrice the size of California. Not only the trash vortexes cause irreversible damage to the marine species and food webs, but they are compounded by the fact that plastics both leach out and absorb harmful pollutants which consequently linked to environmental and health issues. The awareness to such issues is gradually raised in the recent years following to the enlightenment environmentalism and ecomodernism.

In response to such issue hoarded over decades, the Funnel-scraper is envisioned to be a contextual-driven solution as a waste-to-energy power plant tower. Situated at the coastline of San Francisco which is one of the prominent cities located within the vortex cycle of Great Pacific, the tower filtrates the polluted seawater while generating energy and upcycled materials to the adjacent urban network. It incorporates modules of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) and Water Treatment Plants (WTP) to recycle the garbage patch through the dual circulation system: the pump of seawater from bottom-up and the funnel from top-down. It restores not only the marine ecosystem and its living habitat, but giving resurrection to the floating waste for its new purposes.

Apart from an infrastructural megastructure, Funnel-scraper is designed as a hybrid typology to accommodate multilevel gardens as public and recreational spaces to the compact city as well. Parallel to its notion to rewilding the cityscape, the gardens infill has diverted the image of the ‘infrastructure’ appearance of the tower, to become more human-centric and intimate. It resembles the architecture not only as an eco-apparatus to address and relief a long-existing environmental strain, but a living monument of the urban context and its dweller too. The architectural virtues from this hybrid archetype of waste-to-energy mechanism and the hanging gardens suggest a completely new urban experience. Standing along the bay as an island, the gardens are projected as floating archipelago on the sky- it is a journey of vertical wildscape, an urban amusement, an oasis of San Francisco.

Conclusively, the Funnel-scraper creates its own ecosystem and habitat not only within itself, but beyond to the habitats around it- the city, the ocean, the urban dweller, and the wildlife. Above all, it cultivates the rebuild of intimate relationship between human, nature, and the city from both operative and emblematic approach, that subsequently lead us to a state of equilibrium.

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