UAF Braga (2015)

Client: EcoLogic Studio
Artist: EcoLogic Studio
Location: Braga, Portugal

Date: 2015-11-01 00:00:00 +0000
Tags: Portugal, art, biomorphic, steel, Grasshopper, Karamba

The central plaza of Braga in north western Portugal now hosts a striking biomorphic structural entity, the Urban Algae Folly (UAF). Constructed from laser cut and folded structural steel plate the fern like pavilion is home to living micro-algae cultures, in this instance Spirulina, which oxygenate the air and very efficiently absorb carbon dioxide. On a sunny day the algae grow quickly and provide effective and very targeted natural shading. UAF is therefore is both a work of art and a living demonstration of how natural systems can improve our built environment. The algae are held within ETFE cushions transferred from the 2015 Milan Expo Future Food District and fixed to the largest of the steel ferns.

Format carried out the structural engineering of the piece to an incredibly tight deadline without skimping on thoroughness of investigation and optimisation of material and form. Collaboration with the artists and Architects EcoLogic Studio was via a common 3d model which was then brought into the Grasshopper/Karamba environment for stress analysis and form manipulation. In this way we were able to prove the stability of the individual panels and of the form when laser cut into a very fine filigree pattern and to move material away from where it was least needed to areas of the structure where it could be of benefit. We were also able to suggest refinements to the layout of the ferns themselves to make the structure more robust.

Photos courtesy of EcoLogic Studio