Entry No. EC2620

Borderline is a Water research centre for the University of the Free State. The function of the centre is to explore alternative solutions towards water research. This Centre is not only driven by water research but also by nature itself.

When exploring the first traces of architecture it brings us to Marc-Antoine Laugiers’ reference to the primitive hut where the shelter and the skin act as a refuge: a wall offering protection from the outside world. In nature the skins of plants and animals are much more sophisticated – they are able to regulate temperature, generate energy and adapt to change.

By exploring nature’s design and introducing biomimicry (the act of mimicking or copying biology) the obvious clues in nature can be applied to architecture which will ultimately result in the creation of a hybrid building- a building self-sustaining and adaptive to its surroundings.

Nature the ultimate design can be extraordinary even with the smallest of organisms. The water striders or the Jesus bug is just that organism. Instead of breaking the water surface, they stretch it. The water acts as if it has a thin elastic film on the surface this is called, surface tension. The water strider makes use of the surface tension to propel itself forward and walk on water. By applying this principle to my design it makes it possible for architecture to come alive. Using surface tension to force a building to move just as the water strider would.

This project explores whether nature and architecture can amalgamate to become a hybrid solution in a vast landscape which has lost its reference to place and time. The transformation of place and time through architecture results in a progressive fusion giving meaning to a certain no man’s land lacking character and special qualities and resulting in an awakened space.

The building is placed on top of an existing column structure that feeds water to surrounding communities in the area. As the water level fluctuates the architecture gets activated by water tension (just like the water strider), forcing the building to move and transform according to season change. When the water level is at its lowest (winter season) the structure opens to obtain maximum heat gain. During the summer rainfall and the water level is rising the architecture again becomes alive and closes to shade and protect the structure form strong winds.

To conclude when amalgamating two contrasting systems (nature and architecture) a progressive hybrid is born, a hybrid in constant transformation with nature. As the design allows nature and architecture to become a symbiotic fusion of one another, it is clear that the self-sustaining hybrid becomes a living organism with an important function…research.

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