Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
O A X I S by FORWARD THINKING ARCHITECTURE
August 20th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
O A X I S: a project inspired by the sun and the desert Oasis formations. The project as a new link between the desert, renewable energies and water-saving hydroponic agriculture in direct connection to the Arabian Peninsula nearby cities.
The Arabian Desert:
Being a region sitting in the so-called Sun Belt, this vast rainless region boasts with energy resources, an strategic position for OAXIS project. It encompasses almost the entire Arabian Peninsula, blanketing the area in sandy terrain and seasonal winds. Encompassing over 1,447,7955 square miles (2,330,000 sq km), the Arabian Desert contains Rub’al-Khali, one of the world’s largest continuous bodies of sand in the world.
As a geographic area, the Arabian Peninsula is often considered impassable, due to extremely dry environment and scarcity of visible vegetation. Despite the inhospitable terrain, however, the Arabian Desert has served throughout history as a commercial passageway between the Middle East and North Africa.
While it appears inhospitable and barren at first glance, it has proven to be a valuable source for natural resources, including oil, natural gas, phosphates, and sulfur. It also covers a vast reserve of underground groundwater, trapped beneath the sands since the Pleistocene Age, which has in recent years been tapped and used for irrigation in the region. Home to human populations for over 3,000 years, the earliest inhabitants of the region were the Bedouin, a nomadic civilization that used the lands of the Arabian Desert as a breeding ground for camels.
“With an Arid land region , a fast growing population, rapid urbanization, with the coming Dubai Expo 2020 or Qatar’s World Cup 2022, with massive food imports of more than 90% in the GCC, scarce water and plenty of Sun energy resources, we believe OAXIS project fits in this Arabian Peninsula context and can be applied in many others whith similar environmental and physical conditions.We have to respond now to the challenge, in order to help ensure future food security in the region ”
As designers and technicians, we shouldn’t talk about design, processes or sustainability as isolated matters. What is interesting about a new design or building is the potentials and possibilities it creates in order to improve human life. The proposal addresses food production and consumption, it deals with cities self-sufficiency and connectivity , with the relationships between architecture and food insecurity within an ecosystemic vision.
People, nature, design and technology are combined in order to serve an specific function: produce fresh and quality local food with water saving technologies which can help reduce massive food imports in the Arabian Peninsula cities while creating a new attractive linear environmental HUB for farming technology research, pedagogical use and also open to locals and visitors.
“We were inspired by the desert Oasis morphology and use it as a reference for the project green transformation in time, but our objective is not to compete with nature and its amazing processes or with existing Oasis such as Al-Hasa. What we propose is a safe and controlled hydroponic facility based on a modular linear pattern, a city new “green A X I S”, which incorporates some of the qualities of a desert Oasis. It will produce Solar energy to become self-sufficient and capable of running an underground transportation system that deliver the crops directly to the cities, shortening long distance food transportation (imports) and therefore reducing CO2 emissions”
The OAXIS project facilities incorporate a prefabricated modular structure which uses recycled steel, which can be easily expandable to increase the footprint area if required (Solar plant and building construction). The project use local passive strategies to control the building’s environment and it also produces its own energy via a series of high-efficiency photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof-top, acting as a linear solar plant. The clean energy produced will be used for the buildings own consumption and for artificial LED lightning, but most notably, for running the underground conveyor belt system which will transport the produced hydroponic crop trays directly to the nearby city logistic station (minimum distance transport just inside the city area) . All the overproduced peak time energy will go to the city electric grid. The envisioned hydroponic farming system will significantly reduce irrigation requirements (by up to 80%) by controlling (and recycling) the water used, with less fertilizers, pesticides and a rapid growth year-round cycle (,in order to have efficient crop production. Part of the recycled water will be used for the exterior “Oasis” green transformation over time. OAXIS will install on top of the physical facility a computerized systems to control the environmental conditions and the conveyor belt crop transportation system.
Types of crops proposed (fresh vegetables ,herbs and fruits) :
Potatoes, Thyme, Lettuce, Basil, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Rocket, Bell Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes
Combining the local elements and the existing technology:
The ideas behind solar energy plants or Hydroponic agricultural systems are not new to the region , actually there are already several hydroponic farms and plenty of Solar plants around the area. What we believe is interesting about the O A X I S project is the effect it can produce by “fusing” these existing technologies. Having said this, the proposal is not about inventing a new Hydroponic or Photovoltaic system, it is about using Strategic Thinking in order to fuse these existing technologies with the desert elements in order to create a new self-sufficient prototype, one that can help reduce food insecurity, massive imports and create more possibilities for human life.
We asked ourselves:
What if we could combine all these amount of solar hours, the desert elements and existing hydroponic technology in order to produce local sustainable agriculture to help reduce food imports?
Why not help reduce long distance shipping and transportation of crops (imports) and its environmental effects by creating a project that can locally produce the crops and deliver them directly to the city by means of clean energy powered conveyor belts systems?
We already have the elements and the technologies, lets combine them!
A comprehensive renewable energy strategy:
For the underground linear conveyor belt system powering, we propose to use an scalable technology of high-efficiency and self-cleaning solar panels facing South located on the buildings roof-tops, in order to generate and supply the electricity required to run the system. The clean energy produced will also be used to supply the O A X I S facilities and the energy overproduction will be redirected to the nearby city electric grid. Since the project is a linear and a modular one which can be expanded according to the desired or required length , it was important for us to incorporate this high efficiency solar technologies, since this kind of panels will allow us to consume a smaller building footprint and produce the same amount of electricity as larger area installations. All the installation, labor and wiring required will be proportionate to the serviced linear area.
Where does the OAXIS energy come from?
Roof-mounted Photovoltaic’s (Preliminary data, minimizing demands and consumption) :
131 kWh/ sqm annually – roof area
In a 1km long linear distribution (equivalent to 10 OAXIS modules)=
1 linear Kilometer of OAXIS = 18 610 sqm X 131 kWh/sqm = 2 437 910 kWh/ annually ( electric annual output)
Displaces approximately 2,100 tons of carbon dioxide annually
The solar availability is at its highest from May to august, ranging the insolation from 224 kwh/sqm to 237 kwh/sqm
O A X I S as the city’s new “Oasis ecosystem” / Green growing pattern:
The project is envisioned to become a sustainable ecosystem which functions with maximum environmental efficiency and incorporates distinctive flora and species of the region in order to create a new destination in the city. Thus, O A X I S will become a true Biodiversity and educational HUB for the people, showcasing the desert environments and those habitats endangered from climate change. The project will address the function of water as a structuring and precious element and its value in connection with social, cultural, health and wellness-related. This will be evident in the use of Hydroponic technology, a water-saving system, which grow crops with less water and fits perfectly in the desert, where the transparent fluid is limited and the intense heat prevents many plants from growing. All the recycled water coming from the hydroponic farming technology will be used for irrigation of the exterior vegetation, allowing plants and biodiversity to expand around the facilities.
Contact FORWARD THINKING ARCHITECTURE