Algae – without Leaves, Stems, and Roots

 

The Cooper Union
Master of Architecture II | Spring 2016
Architecture of nature / Nature of architecture - Potentials
Professor: Diana Agrest

 
 

Location: Point Loma, California
Ranging from microscopic marine fungi that is unable to see with naked eyes to large seaweed that is as tall as 260 feet (80 m), this organism called algae appears in a variety of scales/formations that is almost limitless. The project focuses on architectural translation of algae’s reproduction and growth patterns, structures, and morphological qualities by not only looking at the external (macro-scale) but the internal (micro-scale) conditions. In Point Loma, there is the world’s largest kelp bed that has 53 different types of algae (red/filamentous, green, brown), specific to the local. The kelp bed or kelp forest is the one that emphasizes the vertical structure in the water column and the surface canopy at the site. Among those species, Macrocystis Pyrifera, “Giant kelp”, one of the fastest growing organisms in the world, dominates the construction of underwater landscape. The Macrocystis Pyrifera individuals are explored through microscopic level of examination that uncovers the inner properties, resulting in the discovery of the unexpectedness that is only unique to algae among all organisms. Unlike algae’s outer structure/form which looks just like land plants, it has a complete opposite mechanism: no true “leaves, stems, and roots” but “blades, stipes, and holdfast.”

 
 

Algae – Red / Coralline (Left: normal scale, Right: micro-scale)

Anisocladella pacifica kylin

Anisocladella pacifica kylin

Coralline officinalis linnaeus

Coralline officinalis linnaeus

Bossiella orbigniana

Bossiella orbigniana

Plocamium pacificum

Plocamium pacificum

 

Algae – Green (Left: normal scale, Right: micro-scale)

Codium setchellii

Codium setchellii

Ulva lactuca

Ulva lactuca

 

Algae – Brown / Kelp (Left: normal scale, Right: micro-scale)

 
 
Enteromorpha intestinalis

Enteromorpha intestinalis

Cystoseira osmundacea

Cystoseira osmundacea

Dictyopteris zonarioides  

Dictyopteris zonarioides
 

Egregia laevigata setchell

Egregia laevigata setchell

Macrocystis pyrifera

Macrocystis pyrifera

Pelagophyacus porra setchell

Pelagophyacus porra setchell

Pterygophora californica ruprecht

Pterygophora californica ruprecht

 
Site plan of Point Loma, San Diego County and Pacific Ocean indicating 4 transects that were surveyed regarding algae species. The different shades of whites on the ocean surfaces represent algae species’ presence/density, relative to ocean depth according to the scale bar (ft). (Scale (relative) indicated on drawing)

Site plan of Point Loma, San Diego County and Pacific Ocean indicating 4 transects that were surveyed regarding algae species. The different shades of whites on the ocean surfaces represent algae species’ presence/density, relative to ocean depth according to the scale bar (ft). (Scale (relative) indicated on drawing)

Macrocystis pyrifera

Macrocystis pyrifera

Egregia laevigata setchell

Egregia laevigata setchell

Pelagophycus porra setchell

Pelagophycus porra setchell

 
Interpretative section (10 ft above ground) drawings of section of Transect IV (refer to site plan-Index #1) representing ocean current pressure, temperature changes, and light penetration levels. (distance from shore: 0-12 yards, sea level to 120 ft depth)

Interpretative section (10 ft above ground) drawings of section of Transect IV (refer to site plan-Index #1) representing ocean current pressure, temperature changes, and light penetration levels. (distance from shore: 0-12 yards, sea level to 120 ft depth)

 
Cross section of blade of Laminaria Farlowii showing cells, parapyses, and sporangia in 3 different scales (from bottom to top: 20x magnification, micro-scale, nano-scale) in context of ocean water  with other living organisms (in scale).

Cross section of blade of Laminaria Farlowii showing cells, parapyses, and sporangia in 3 different scales (from bottom to top: 20x magnification, micro-scale, nano-scale) in context of ocean water  with other living organisms (in scale).

 
 
Egregia species is midwater-surface canopy kelp that includes sub species like Egregia Laevigata and Egregia Menziesii. The drawing indicates developmental stages and life cycle of Egregia Laevigata which inhabits around the site (Point Loma, San Diego) which can be considered as the most significant difference to Egregia Menziesii which lives different part of Southern California. The different geographic distribution and environmental influence (water temperature, water pressure, amount of nutrition, light penetration level) puts huge effect on their morphology or physical appearance such as shape of blades and their texture, average number of blades, length of stipe, etc.From left to right: filiform sporophylls, short stripe & single blade, short branching thallus, mature sporophyte, filiform sporophylls

Egregia species is midwater-surface canopy kelp that includes sub species like Egregia Laevigata and Egregia Menziesii. The drawing indicates developmental stages and life cycle of Egregia Laevigata which inhabits around the site (Point Loma, San Diego) which can be considered as the most significant difference to Egregia Menziesii which lives different part of Southern California. The different geographic distribution and environmental influence (water temperature, water pressure, amount of nutrition, light penetration level) puts huge effect on their morphology or physical appearance such as shape of blades and their texture, average number of blades, length of stipe, etc.From left to right: filiform sporophylls, short stripe & single blade, short branching thallus, mature sporophyte, filiform sporophylls

 
 
Macrocystis_reproduction-process_diagram.jpg
Life cycle of Macrocystis Pyrifera is represented chronologically (left to right) from the very beginning when spores get created (0 Second) to fully grown up adult sporophyte (up to 200ft, usually 2~3 years of life) by showing its transitions in physical appearance. This cycle is repeated by reproduction process which occurs from male and female spores released from reproductive blades. The spores float with the currents, settle on the ocean floor, and grow into male and female gametophytes. After fertilization, a female gametophyte’s egg grows into microscopic sporophyte which develops into a single blade that splits many times and eventually grows into adult kelp. The black side of the drawing represents micro-stage of the process when it is not perceivable through naked eyes. The transition point where black becomes white is when it changes from micro to macro-stage (195 days, young sporophyte). (Scale varies – indicated with scale bars) Below drawing is interpreted by focusing on transitional points from one stage to the other and the flow of reproduction process throughout the time period. A different level of density is created through fluids of thousands of overlapping lines generated by computer software which translates into another language enabling various ways to approach and read the process.

Life cycle of Macrocystis Pyrifera is represented chronologically (left to right) from the very beginning when spores get created (0 Second) to fully grown up adult sporophyte (up to 200ft, usually 2~3 years of life) by showing its transitions in physical appearance. This cycle is repeated by reproduction process which occurs from male and female spores released from reproductive blades. The spores float with the currents, settle on the ocean floor, and grow into male and female gametophytes. After fertilization, a female gametophyte’s egg grows into microscopic sporophyte which develops into a single blade that splits many times and eventually grows into adult kelp. The black side of the drawing represents micro-stage of the process when it is not perceivable through naked eyes. The transition point where black becomes white is when it changes from micro to macro-stage (195 days, young sporophyte). (Scale varies – indicated with scale bars) Below drawing is interpreted by focusing on transitional points from one stage to the other and the flow of reproduction process throughout the time period. A different level of density is created through fluids of thousands of overlapping lines generated by computer software which translates into another language enabling various ways to approach and read the process.

 
 
A conceptualized drawing of chronological process (#19: from left to right, #20: details of #19) of tentacle-like holdfast’s growth with gel-like adhesive ingredient, Algin, inside. Holdfast is a root-like structure of kelp which only works as anchoring system to hard substrates without absorbent function like land plants’ roots that absorb nutrients from surrounding soil. In most cases, kelp’s holdfasts do not correspond to the size of kelp, for instance, smallest holdfasts are only few centimeters in diameter while kelps are few meters or more in height. Despite the size, the strong adhesive liquids that come out from tip of each holdfast branches are strong enough to hold the giant body from ocean currents by anchoring to small rocks. (Not in scale)

A conceptualized drawing of chronological process (#19: from left to right, #20: details of #19) of tentacle-like holdfast’s growth with gel-like adhesive ingredient, Algin, inside. Holdfast is a root-like structure of kelp which only works as anchoring system to hard substrates without absorbent function like land plants’ roots that absorb nutrients from surrounding soil. In most cases, kelp’s holdfasts do not correspond to the size of kelp, for instance, smallest holdfasts are only few centimeters in diameter while kelps are few meters or more in height. Despite the size, the strong adhesive liquids that come out from tip of each holdfast branches are strong enough to hold the giant body from ocean currents by anchoring to small rocks. (Not in scale)

 
 
Algae or kelp’s physical appearances is not much different from land plants’ which is consist of leaves, stems, and roots. Land plants absorb nutrition through their roots (bottom), carry and spread it through stems (bottom to top), and absorb lights and photosynthesis occurs through leaves (top). Despite similar physical appearance, algae which are consist of blades (leaves), pnuematocysts (gas-filled air bladder), stipe (stems), and holdfast (root) have a totally opposite mechanism which floats towards the surface of water by pnuematocysts, absorbs lights and nutrition through surface of blades (top), transports nutrition throughout the kelp body by stipe instead of holdfast that only takes role of anchoring the body of kelp to substrate without absorbent function. This inverted mechanism of algae is abstracted through directionality of lines and the intensity of overlapping lines, creating a flow from top to bottom. (Elevation, no scale)

Algae or kelp’s physical appearances is not much different from land plants’ which is consist of leaves, stems, and roots. Land plants absorb nutrition through their roots (bottom), carry and spread it through stems (bottom to top), and absorb lights and photosynthesis occurs through leaves (top). Despite similar physical appearance, algae which are consist of blades (leaves), pnuematocysts (gas-filled air bladder), stipe (stems), and holdfast (root) have a totally opposite mechanism which floats towards the surface of water by pnuematocysts, absorbs lights and nutrition through surface of blades (top), transports nutrition throughout the kelp body by stipe instead of holdfast that only takes role of anchoring the body of kelp to substrate without absorbent function. This inverted mechanism of algae is abstracted through directionality of lines and the intensity of overlapping lines, creating a flow from top to bottom. (Elevation, no scale)