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Un-built: A place to catch (sea) breeze

August 8, 2011

BLOXAS and Chian Quah’s design proposal for a climate-responsive towers in Brisbane that collect and redistribute water.

This design was a submission to the 2011 Brisbane International Ideas Competition, created by BLOXAS in collaboration with Chian Quah.

The proposal considers the climatic condition and placement of Brisbane, within its geographical context. Brisbane city is located approximately 21kms inland from the nearest coastal edge. Subsequently it is starved of any significant reprievable, or recurrent, sea breeze. This, coupled with an unforgiving sub-tropical summer humidity, was the catalyst for the concept design.

Slender, sculptured towers range in height depending on their topographical location. An amalgamation of their atmospheric height, form, and diverse material applications and techniques allow the ‘installations’ to collect dew, moisture and condensation from the atmosphere on their varied planes throughout the winter months. Surface treatments include mesh, corrugated and dimpled metals, timber/moss, the density of concrete, and ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Contrasting materials produce or create moisture, which is then collected internally and retained in intermediate guttering systems.

In summer, the pooled water runs through a conduit of intricate vertical pipework, and is dispersed through hundreds of heads, akin to miniture sprinklers. A fine mist subsequently drifts across selected parts of the city, southbank, the urban fringe and suburbs. This mist doubles as a screening device to ‘stealth’ or conceal the source during the summer months, assimulating them with the sky, rather than the colours of the landscape.

In winter, the towers reveal their sensitivity to the landscape in a binary fashion. Winter for these installations is a period of moisture collection, but the visibility of colourations of green moss on sections of timber, fusing with dimpled metals, reflecting and mirroring the landscape, proffers a profound dual intention for the towers. Concrete absorbing the suns rays, dimpled metals undulating, as well as the mesh shimmering with beads of collected water. These act as beacons of the ephemeral nature of seasons, and create vertical extensions of the landscape within which they are situated.

Team Architects: BLOXAS + Chian Quah

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