Advancing the Education of Young Architecture Graduates through Foreign Travel-Study
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by Ronald Spencer — Finalist


A survey of the context revealed several opportunities for successful development of the site, the area, and building design in general from a variety of scales concerning economic, ecological and social equity innovation. The area was built on agriculture economics and witnessed a boom from a connection to the Pacific Railroad. Due to this combination of climate, agriculture technology, and industrial evolution Whittier was put on the map (largest walnut exporter in the country at the time).

What if we could adapt that same economic framework into a sustainable closed loop system?

The City is seeking to boost the physical presence of the downtown area. Since the site lies within their targeted zone and satisfies the majority of their development goals, it became important to establish the building as a destination zone. This doesn’t mean a wild Zaha Hadid sculpture, but rather an intriguing visual destination that makes the building pop in the context. Conveying how the system works through an experience based educational manor can create this pop. The individual elements are easily adaptable to (and originally created for) the residential scale.

Hydroponics was a great starting point. The system allows efficient production of vegetables in restricted areas. However, it also has negative impacts on water sources. Water levels get filled with Nitrates, which require heavy filtering before being reintroduced to the environment.

Aquaponics combines Hydroponics with Fish farming in a closed loop system. The fish feed off the Nitrates, while the plants consume CO2 and Ammonia from the fish. Production is increased, waste is decreased and the water system gets closed. Furthermore, algae production can easily be woven into the framework for biofuel production and water cycle management. This system begins to overlap with many of the expected waste streams of the individual program elements.

The space itself is sculpted around this system, program needs, solar angles and site-specific restraints. There was also the potential of including a research area to further adapt and study this process. This allows the community to encourage local agricultural innovation. To support this, there is also allotted space for live work units in order to recruit academics to the lab and education center for study purposes.

Economics + Ecology + Social Equity = A Successful Future

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