308_Tiago Vasconcelos: Permabioreactor

Tiago Vasconcelos from South Africa: “My name is Tiago Vasconcelos. I'm a 26yo Masters student in final year at the Architecture and Extreme Environments programme at KADK. I was born in South Africa but am of Portuguese descent. Having grown up in Africa, I decided to obtain my masters in Denmark in a programme whose focus lies within the realm of technology + architecture, focusing on responsible, sustainable design - as the Scandinavian region is known globally for its ability to synthesize good design and sustainable practices. One of my hopes and intentions in the long run is to appropriate and apply the knowledge and skills I gain to an African context, considering the geo-political, economic and cultural idiosyncrasies.

On the short term, and following my masters, I am interested in potentially pursuing a PHD; albeit at this time the idea is not totally solidified. I'm currently developing my interests and possible areas of investigation to then pursue appropriate channels to make it happen. My idea for the time being is going the industrial PHD route - as a means of gaining work and industry experience whilst learning and researching.”

Instagram Username: @tvasquinho

University: The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation

Professor(s): David A. Garcia, Thomas Chevalier Bøjstrup

Name of Project: Permabioreactor | Emissions Mitigation through Nutritional Cultivation

Project Description: Designed and fabricated as part of Semester 03 at Architecture and Extreme Environments MA Programme, KADK - Recent winner in Category 1 for the Creative Food Cycles 'Food Interactions' competition

14% of Alaskans are currently defined as food-insecure, lacking access to nutritious food on a consistent basis. The cold climate inhibits agricultural activity much of the year and as a result, up to 90% of food consumed in the state is imported.

Climate change is only exacerbating this challenge; as increasing temperatures and oceanic acidification are causing large shifts in migratory patterns of animals and reduction of fish populations; making these subsistent sources increasingly difficult to come by for Native peoples. Additionally, elevating temperatures are causing widespread permafrost thaw; wreaking structural havoc and greenhouse gas emissions.

History, however, might hold the answer. Traditionally, seaweeds (macroalgae) have served as a supportive source of nutrients and minerals where other options have been difficult to obtain. Thus, this project investigates the synthesis of two challenges; permafrost carbon emissions, and the continued struggle with food security in Alaska.

The Permabioreactor (Permafrost + Photobioreactor) houses three frozen permafrost core samples at its base. The samples thaw, and excess carbon dioxide emitted by them is pumped upward and into a set of three photobioreactors. These reactors house within them a culture medium of the microalgae Spirulina sp. This microalga has in recent times come to be known as a ‘super food’ given its dense nutritional value. Through photosynthesis, the algae consume excess carbon dioxide emitted by the permafrost; and in turn thrive, thus serving as a potential supportive food source. Exploiting a negative consequence of climate change, by cultivating a positive outcome for the Alaskan people.