Architectural Ecologies Lab (AEL) was recently recognized by Architect Magazine with a 2018 R+D Award for the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab. This project, housed within AEL, has dedicated years of research to biofouling—the phenomenon in which surfaces placed underwater attract plankton, fish, and other sea life, which can erode structures and impair movement for vessels.
Biofouling is typically thought of as a problem to combat, but the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab saw it as an innovative way to replenish coastal ecosystems. Led by CCA architecture faculty and AEL co-directors Adam Marcus, Margaret Ikeda, and Evan Jones, the Buoyant Ecologies team partnered with marine ecologists and fiber-reinforced polymer manufacturers, in order to research underwater surfaces and identify materials, textures, and eco-friendly shapes that best promote aquatic life.
AEL and the Buoyant Ecologies team worked with scientists from the Benthic Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and with Kreysler & Associates to develop their prototypes. This fall, the AEL team will launch the Float Lab into the San Francisco Bay. They are working with the Port of Oakland to deploy the floating breakwater in Oakland's Middle Harbor Shoreline Park as a research field station and ecological education demonstration project.
“We are proud of the research being conducted by CCA’s Architectural Ecologies Lab,” states CCA interim dean and professor of architecture Lisa Findley. “In particular, the forward-thinking work of the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab offers insights into coastal infrastructures, eco-friendly materials, aquatic ecosystems, and the value of collaboration with scientists and fabricators. The team and their work are well deserving of this recognition and it further distinguishes CCA’s Architecture Division as leaders of new architectural models for addressing changing environments.”
AIA juror Randy Deutsch remarked, “The research that this team took was in-depth, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and collaborative. That and how they displayed the results over time was over-the-top impressive.”