Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Type: Thesis Project
Program: Urban Planning, Sustainable Development
Resistant and adaptive infrastructures cannot be built at once. They grow slowly building up relationships and integrating into surrounding systems. They evolve invisibly around nature. While the urban population grow in today’s world, naturally our interest in living infrastructural systems increase. Those systems are able to operate on an urban scale, growing up in size and capacity with the population they needed to support. This project presents a pinpoint study of a bio-infrastructure system, a high-performance, engineered and managed ecological system that has to be developed for decades in order to prevent the future flash floods, teaching the adaptive methods to live with risen water levels, treating the urban runoff and urban waste, produce fruit and vegetables, create a land of emergency and support economy and local economy while cleansing the environment.
In order to learn from this pinpoint study, it may be necessary adopt a new lens for approaching infrastructural systems by understanding their behaviour and its relationships with the nature where sustainability is achieved. Bio-infrastructures present a model of thinking and designing hybrid systems which use an ecosystem ecology perspective to manage environments. Bringing landscape engineering and environment management to urban landscape causes us to reconsider the idea of the city, its essentials and relationships of its components which can be made naturally, socially, economic or environmental.
Bio-infrastructures are infrastructural systems made by help of technology and engineered ecosystems. Recent natural infrastructure projects are generally focused on stormwater management. But, those systems are capable of doing much more of ecosystem services, like sewage treatment. Wetlands do the same that traditional systems do, but also allow the landscape to perform a variety of additional services, without having a wastewater treatment plant. Rather than seeing systems in opposition, understanding the relationship between “green” and “grey” infrastructure is essential to propose new alternatives. Bio-infrastructure systems utilise landscape systems to perform ecosystem services(treating runoff water, increasing air quality, processing waste, sequestering carbon, producing energy and nutrients), taking advantage of synergistic relationships between system components and functions. Bio-infrastructural systems are more than just wastewater treatment; they provide also the basic needs in emergency situations, both in poor and developing countries; food, sanitation, water, livelihood.
Airport land has emerged as a void of the city. Istanbul is developing rapidly and harming the natural environment that cannot withstand the growing population, destruction of the ecosystem and the worldwide changes due the climate change. The problem is we are still building the city of the past. The people of the 1880s could not build a city for the year 2000 and we cannot build a year 2100 city now. But we should not build a city now that we know will not function in 2100. There are opportunities to renew our infrastructure. It is not all bad news. We just have to grasp those opportunities. It could be an asset to the city. Eventually the city will have to face up to this, because the problem is going to get worse. It might take five years of study and another ten years to get the political will to do it. By then there might have been another disaster. We need to start planning immediately. Otherwise we’re mortgaging the future and leaving the next generation to cope with it as best as it can. This wetland ecosystem can be a valuable piece of city’s infrastructure since it provides non-monetised or equalised ecosystem services including control of water and air pollution, groundwater recharge and flood control, preservation of biodiversity and habitat, and emergency location for future purposes. The city and the land will continue to grow into each other, causing each other in symbiotic relation which also relies upon social and economic situation around to support its growth. The resulting landscape is notion of managed conditions with its sites of production, maintenance, habitation, cultivation, prevention.
Within the wetland’s ponds, sewage and runoff water is treated in a series of contained pools with carefully managed conditions and time. As nutrient-rich waste goes through the systems, it is slowly cleaned, redirecting nutrient to the growth of algae. Algae is filtered from water and goes through few processes to finally become algae based 3D printing material that is further used for printing any kind of functional infrastructure mimicking grey infrastructure models. Thus, this process is joined into ecological cycle of the system, since the system itself is biodegradable.
Bio-infrastructure systems may be efficiently designed and work to minimise waste through connected nutrient and energy flows and they often rely on the inputs from the outside environment. Infrastructural urbanism lets cities to grow into healthy and beautiful spaces over time. This stance represents a shift from an “grey systems” to a system which sees the city and environment as a structure for possibilities.