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Innovations

Envisioning a car-free, algae-powered city

June 20, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

To save space neighborhoods are stacked in layers, the undersides covered with genetically engineered algae that doesn’t require sunlight to grow, that can be converted into power. Illustration: RAW-NYC

To save space neighborhoods are stacked in layers, the undersides covered with genetically engineered algae that doesn’t require sunlight to grow, that can be converted into power. Illustration: RAW-NYC

Adele Peters writes in fastcoexist.com about a tiny piece of land between Croatia and Serbia — a disputed territory that doesn’t clearly belong to either country — where a group of libertarians is hoping to build a micronation dubbed the Free Republic of Liberland — a country they self-proclaimed into existence in 2015.

A new design shows how the city-state might look. To save space (the whole country is only three square miles) but allow the city to grow, neighborhoods are stacked in layers.

“I envisioned an intimate-scale city,” says Raya Ani, director of RAW-NYC, the architecture firm that created the winning design in response to a competition hosted by Liberland. Rather than build massive skyscrapers to house the 400,000 people who hope to live in the new city, each layer includes smaller, densely arranged buildings that allow sunlight to reach the street.

The underside of each layer platform is covered with algae – a genetically engineered version that doesn’t require sunlight to grow, and that can be converted into power. “The horizontal surface layer seemed to be the perfect home to grow algae that could power the city,” she says.

The design includes solar power, and a waste-to-energy system that converts any organic waste to biogas for cooking. Other trash is incinerated to create electricity.

The buildings would be covered with green walls and roofs to reduce rainwater runoff, and to keep temperatures cooler in heat waves. Along the edges of the city, since the area is a flood plain, parks are designed for occasional floods.

Liberland’s design team also included non-designers, such as economists, to think about other aspects of how the city would function. They propose that Liberland would have three economic hubs – sustainability, media, and technology – and promote entrepreneurship through a national crowdfunding site.

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