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The Extreme Machine

Outline

As an introduction to the BArch course, the Extreme Machines group project demanded a detailed understanding of a particular extreme environment; its topography, its climate, and its culture. It also demanded a detailed understanding of native species of the region, whose unique behavioural and instinctive character traits, whether as a collective unit, or individual in isolation, have ensured the organism’s continued survival, where other species have failed.

Through identifying the unique characteristics of the context and native species, from the climate to the key life characteristics and caste hierarchies present in the animal and insect kingdom, in conjunction with selected readings, a proposition could be formed around specific niche, caste and behavioural characteristics. This proposition could then be transferred to the design of an extreme machine, whose intelligence and adaptability would ensure its own ability to survive in the extreme context.

Date

March 11, 2008

Context

The chosen extreme environment or niche, in which the project was based, is located in tropical  Sub-Saharan Africa, in the town of Kuntanase, Ghana

Located on the plains of the Central Region of Ghana, the terrain is generally flat with lush vegetation, and some areas of gentle, wooded hillsides. The most striking feature of the terrain is the vast crater at Lake Bosomtwe, caused by a meteor impact millions of years ago, which contrasts sharply to the otherwise homogeneous terrain. In an area of no major water sources, the crater, with its steep hillsides and large body of water, has a large effect on the local climate of the area, creating its own microclimate, and in turn attracting a greater diversity of organisms, which thrive under its conditions.

The large body of standing water at Lake Bosomtwe, which has slowly filled over millions of years, provides the ideal conditions for the growth of algae, whose potential as a source of biofuel, provides a means for energy generation in the design.

Directly to the north-west of the context lies the second largest city in Ghana, Kumasi. As the industrial centre for the country, the city has been identified as a source of huge amounts of airborne pollution and smog, which has a devastating effect on the health of its local population, as the worst affected in Ghana. The need for clean, efficient sources of energy generation acts as a design criteria for the extreme project.

Gallery

Design Response

The proposed extreme machine aims to fulfil the set objectives of energy generation and industrial remediation, whilst acting with the mobility of a soldier in scouting its terrain. Combining the two objectives, the machine acts as a means of ‘carrier, transporting samples of algae from the crater at Lake Bosomtwe, to tactically-located algae farms, where high levels of industrially-produced carbon dioxide can be fed into a continuous cycle to boost its growth.

Upon successfully propagating the samples, the machine then harvests the cells, extracting the CO2-rich algae for the production of biodiesel, as a means for energy generation. Carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fuel for energy can be fed back into a closed-loop system, and the cycle continues.

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