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Healing Strip

Part 2 Project 2009
Firus Faizal
National University of Singapore | Singapore
In 50 years time, the projected Singapore population growth to 6.5 million inhabitants would exert its toll on our current resources. One of these resources that are critical to sustain our growth, is our requirement for more energy. Yet, as studies point out that we may have passed the world’s oil peak output, the paradigm shift of fossil fuel dependence to a renewable resource calls for a new exploration of possibilities to empower our nation.

To pursue this, we entertained harvesting energy from biological solutions that continually self-regenerate in the form of algae culturing to produce bio-fuel. We begin colonizing our unwanted dead urban spaces- our expressways as cultivation alga-culture grounds. Singapore's longest highway, the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) provides us with limitless supply of CO2 that nourishes these microphytes, while we reap cleaner bio-fuel. This intervention has a theoretical potential to meet our energy demands, [equivalent to 2 Tuas power station’s fuel oil requirement] upon conversion of the algae cultures into bio-fuel. Thus, a series of nerve centres along the highway spine provides opportunistic programmatic functions and are connected to one other above the PIE expressway as alga-farmlands.

The first nerve centre, which is explored in this thesis, is intended as a research village to cross-breed native algae species into super alga-strains suitable for mass commercialization. Concurrently, the intervention is also designed to heal the reserve by means of stitching the currently cleaved Central Nature Reserve with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve together, to encourage animal crossings and floral dispersion.

This perseverance for greener energy spearheads our city’s metamorphosis from an industrial to an ecological one, simultaneously healing our environment.

Firus Faizal

This is a thesis that penetrates beyond the ordinary and discusses the extraordinary role of the architect through a frank excavation and contestation of the deficiencies of modern day dystopia. Maturely, Firus acknowledges the present limitations of Singapore’s capacity to support its projected boom in population and questions its terrifying wholesale dependence on fossil fuels. Cities have long depended upon fossil fuels to power the economy, but it is also true that renewables can offer an alternative empowerment. If so, how can we harness our natural capital that benefits both the environment and human beings concurrently? And how do we articulate these new technologies to a habitable paradigm?

Firus’s response was excellent from the outset. Starting with the cultivation of the detested green algae as promised energy resource, he balances the qualitative side of the project by quantifying numbers to breathe convincing believability in the scheme’s realism before pointing out a radical choice of site-the motorized highway. His choice of colonizing Singapore’s longest expressway to grow algae for biofuel, the Pan Island Expressway, proved to be a brilliant move; it converts a brownfield site to a productive urban farmland, it accesses to solar abundance without a need to clear forests and importantly, carbon dioxide gases released by the motor highway is sequestrated as the main microphytical growth requirement.

From this, he envisaged a selfless, healing vision when the old highway cleaves apart the island’s last natural heritage-the Central Nature Reserve. Sensitively designing the first nerve centre as a research village to recuperate the environmental violations done, the architectural response gradually nurse the severed reserve by allowing animal crossings to occur, allowing its wild inhabitants an undisrupted access to food, potential mates and continuity of their indigenous habitats.

Firus represents a rare breed of selfless architect who does more than the mere poetics of space by giving generously back to the environment and society, concurrently ameliorating the invisible wounds cutting through the urban fabric. He is brave or skilled enough to take on the challenge of technological postulation-leading to the crafting of a prototypical space-and make something beautiful that heals.


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