Irene Wing Sum Wu

Irene Wing Sum Wu


Alive Algae Architecture

-along the path into the charms of micro-algae 

It is an innovative project.  

It is a material-based project.   

It is research of microalgae.  

It is built from microalgae.  

It is built for the material.  

It is built for the ecosystem.  

It is built for the landscape.  

It is about nature-culture.  

It is about the basics of life cycle, also in architecture.  


Alive Algae Architecture is a project combining the knowledge of science, art and architecture. Research as a scientist, craft as an artist and design as an architect. For this project, it is seen as innovative research. I search for the new potential building material and promote its use for the future next to designing architecture. It is focused on bio-based material with the scale of microbiology and combines it into architecture.   

Say ‘algae’: most people immediately think of pond scum - but what they do not realise is that we would not exist if algae didn’t exist. Microalgae are the oldest organisms on Earth; they are the beginning of a food chain. In the past few years, it has been made clear that we can no longer ignore the threats to climate change, the economy and future energy security. Microalgae can help address all these major issues. They can absorb CO2; produce oxygen, power, fuels, and food; purge water during their own growing system; and produce a large amount of biomass. Even though it has so many advantages, the development is very small and expensive. Therefore, this project aims to boost the market field and demand for micro-algae to encourage faster and cheaper development of the micro-algae system. Or at least broaden the public’s horizon about this new potential material through this graduation.   

Alive Algae Architecture demonstrates the built environment’s opportunities with microalgae. This project explores how microalgae can be integrated into the building or if they even can become construction material. With the quality of the location - Het Twiske - to enhance the quality and atmosphere of this new material in a self-sufficient ecosystem with diverse experiences of the landscape. Over time, the building changes dynamically, and the express building is no longer a permanent shelter, but it can be a living object and contains life.   

With a rich quality of different types of landscape: forest, open grass field, reed field, inner still water and open wavy water. Five towers (Consolidating> Growing> Dissolving> Transiting> Waving) are created representatively, allowing you to experience the material and landscape one by one in a different atmosphere and perspective. The towers are connected by different bridges, which also harmoniously reflects this feature of Het Twiske: from spot to spot by bridge to bridge. This design will provide a poetic experience for the visitors toward the material and landscape: It aims to provoke discussion of using algae as a future material or resource.   

Afstudeerdatum: 29 augustus 2022
Afstudeercommissie: Jeroen van Mechelen (mentor), Laura van Santen, Marlies Boterman
Toegevoegde leden tbv examen: Lada Hrsak, Milad Pallesh

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