When we were invited to create a site specific installation for Toronto's inaugural EDIT expo in the old Unilever soap factory we immediately thought of cleaning and clean air. We also thought about the future and about how energy and food production are becoming more and more local. Inefficient megaprojects are a thing of the past. The future is about many small things efficiently working in concert in very large quantities.
In response, we turned to the latest innovations in urban farming to produce a DIY fully functioning algae reactor at an installation scale. Suspended from the ceiling of the old soap factory, the inverted topography of transparent vessels contain a growing micro-algae culture that converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, scrubbing the air clean -a tongue-in-cheek nod to the factory’s origins. Beneath the living installation an array of fluorescent tubes feeds the photosynthetic reaction.
Suspended tubing releases oxygen into the adjacent area, creating a fresh-air bubble at the heart of an industrial building where visitors can recharge and reap the benefits of the reactors’ oxygen emissions. When operating at full capacity the 160 litres of suspended Chlorella micro-algae generate enough oxygen year-round for an active family of four. Moreover, the algae can be harvested. Once dried it can provide an annual yield of 83kg of nutrient-rich superfood.