Desert Blossom (DB) is a flexible infrastructure enabling multi-species cohabitation in urban environments. It’s a shelter that could be adapted to different contexts and different human activities, from a bus station to an outdoor market, thanks to the use of dynamic design strategies combined with additive manufacturing technologies.
Architecture acts here as a scaffolding that changes over time and where natural and artificial are blending in a bio-integrated system. It is a fact that contemporary cities suffer a loss of biodiversity in urban areas, this project encourages a fusion of architecture and local biological components, to
enhance ecological cycles, and include the buildings in a mutual exchange between humans, vegetation, and animals. This configuration has been developed for cities in a hot desertic climate like Dubai especially to reintroduce local species in the urban environment, but the principle could be adapted to other climates and conditions.
The pavilion is composed of a series of 3D printed columns that gradually expand their horizontal section as they grow vertically. These funnel-like elements connect each other generating a vaulted shelter and they could compose in different configurations according to the needs, adding more elements or scaling them up or down. The columns with their funnel shape, define a system of pockets that at the roof level is inhabited by local vegetation. The plants, in turn, attract birds that can find a home in DB: the conformation of the columns with their cavities and the interstices between the
masses becomes infrastructure for their nests.
with Cristian Li Voi
A biologist expert in local flora has been involved by the design team to guide the selection of the plants able to survive in this harsh environment avoiding external intervention or maintenance. The role of the vegetation is crucial not only to recreate an ecosystem able to bring back local fauna but also to contribute to the fight against the urban heat island effect. Green areas in Dubai, usually need a lot of maintenance,
because involving exotic plants and rely on the water supply network. Maintenance is itself the idea of an “ideal configuration” that is wanted to be preserved. This project, instead, aims to create a system that autonomously evolves and interacts with the surroundings biosystem. The structure is indeed designed to support low-tech equipment that harvests water from the air, to guarantee the amount of water needed by the plants without relying on external water supply, making DB standalone.
3D printing of recycled (and recyclable) thermoplastic is used as an integrative way of construction, where different functions are fused in a single body that is specifically configured according to the relationship within the parts. The combination of parametric design and 3D printing allows a higher level of control over the result. Specific patterns of the surface allow the plant to climb down and the roughness of the surface is intentionally promoting an aesthetics of "absorption": the surfaces capture particles of dust and sand in the air, incorporating them in its body. The dirtiness that the 3D printed layers can incorporate, enhances the connection with the environment on an aesthetical level too. Microarchitectures are an expression of the local environment.