The Algae Energy Pavilion is a conceptual design that will provide multi-functional elements to the Berkeley Aquatic Park in the City of Berkeley, California. As a shading structure, the pavilion extends from the open space area at the southeast end of the park with five “branches” arching over the pedestrian pathway into the lagoon. To resolve the eutrophication problems that occur when excessive nutrients in the water creates toxic algae blooms, the branches remove algae from the water’s surface. As an alternative energy producer, the structure will store and house the algae, and grow them for harvest. An attached underground processing center will take in the harvest, and turn them into biofuels.
Designed to last, the pavilion branches will be made with heavy-grade steel frames to withstand the temporal weather of the San Francisco Bay area. Leaf-shaped glass pods covered with flexible film photovoltaics are mounted on top of the branches. The pods span from the water’s edge to the processing plant, and are interconnected with controllable valves on both ends, serving as the medium of transportation as well as containers for storage and photosynthesis. The pods will be climate-controlled and receive carbon dioxide to aid algae growth, and in turn produce oxygen that is expelled into the surrounding air from panels designed to let air out and keep water in. Pumps at the water and atop each branch will bring the algae into the pods, then eventually into the processing center. Solar energy will be used to provide the energy required by the pavilion, and also for lighting around the park at night, extending the park’s hours and safety. Benches with built-in charging ports will allow visitors to rest comfortably while charging their portable electronics.
The pavilion mimics a waterside willow tree, with its structure providing shading for visitors resting below. Mimicking a living tree absorbing nutrients from the earth, the pavilion takes in nutrient-filled algae from the lagoon, and uses them to produce fuel. The pods act like leaves in storing the algae, absorbing natural sunlight for natural photosynthesis and collecting solar power for artificial processes in the processing center and around the park. The pavilion also takes in carbon dioxide and creates oxygen with photosynthesis, refreshing the surrounding atmosphere. The algae-extracted water is replaced back into the lagoon, rejuvenating the water for humans and natural visitors alike.
The Algae Energy Pavilion will bring renewed life and energy to the Berkeley Aquatic Park. With its southern location, the pavilion ties the mile-long park together along with the Dream Land for Kids playground, the Waterside Workshop café and the similarly shaped I-80 Bridge to the north. The pavilion could work as a lab for UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and the College of Environmental Design. It can also attract more visitors via educational tours for kids in the area and outside visitors. The Algae Energy Pavilion should bring relevance back to the park, and become a new iconic landmark in the City of Berkeley.