2017 Inception Award | Hydroterrium


Hydroterrium proposes a multi-functional farming system within the decommissioned White Bay Power Station in Sydney CBD. In response to the themes of post-industrialism, globalisation and sustenance, the intent of the research project is to explore the future of radical farming techniques by deconstructing the fundamental methods of agriculture. Using the urban city as a catalyst for environmental thinking, the project aims to delve into the farm-to-table analogy with a cradle-to-grave philosophy in the hope for a better future for both the natural environment and man-kind. Adopting a phytoremediation and biomimicry approach, water is used as a method to imitate the natural exterior landscape and an integral component of the built environment.

The projects aims to critically respond to the challenges of the rapidly growing population, in the hope to educate, cultivate and influence the surrounding community of Rozelle. In today’s globalised society, the current ease to accessibility of food is the fundamental issue of declining natural resources as Earth has become a human-life dominant system. This ease has effected the relationship between consumer and food, ultimately influencing the agricultural demand to intensify. The project’s framework is influenced by the research and fundamental idea that by the year 2050, the population will reach approximately 10 billion.
Within the globalised world, architectural designers and spatial practitioners are continuously focused on creating new buildings and infrastructure, rather than considering unused or desolate environments. The project acknowledges the post-industrialised landscape to both inform design decisions to its context and encase within a historically unsustainable moment in time. This idea aims to both juxtapose and merge into the urban landscape in order to recognise what once was, in the hope to implement change.
The proposed site is The White Bay Power Station within the Sydney CBD, due to its heritage significance and historical implications in developing the urban realm we know today. White Bay operated as a thermal coal-fired power station from 1917, and closed in 1984 due to not being able to meet growing environmental demands. As the power station had originally used coal to fuel the city, the project intends for the power station to take on a new life to produce food as fuel for the community.
The project features 6 interconnected experiences that respond to the existing conditions, whilst the entire site is engulfed in water from the surrounding bay. The site will hold a communal agricultural system that involves users to voluntarily work and tend to the farms, and allows them to share the produce at the end. This system will be open to direct residents within a 1-2 kilometre radius of the site, actively passionate about locally sourced food. This concept intends to create a ripple-effect within the urban domain, to suggest a sustainable circulation, cultivating the future generations with a give-and-receive attitude.
The programs injected within the power station, propose 3 major zones; water hydropower system, agricultural food farm and waste disposal zone. The three programs will run in a particular process, working from the extraction of water, that feeds the food and ending with the disposal of waste that will than take on a new life as fertiliser for the growing food. Saltwater is filtered into fresh water and evaporated into the spaces to create terrarium-like environments.
Alongside this, a public exterior space surrounded by the water of the bay offers opportunities for the community to retreat. Covered in sand, the island mimics a beach environment similar to the surrounding Sydney lifestyle that is not as familiar or directly accessible to the residents of Rozelle. The island can house markets weekly, allowing for food trucks and stalls, offering food produced from the farm to the local residents.
Throughout the project, water is used as the underlining theme for plant survival as well as working as a tool for design direction, process, method, material and solution. Water qualities of mist, steam, condensation and liquid act as nutrients for the different farm climates as well as creating a perfect environment for moss and natural surfaces to take over the existing building. Using water to thread through the site, the existing conditions will begin to take on a new life, cladded in natural surfaces. This will eventually over time create a ‘living, breathing’ building – the ultimate enclosed terrarium greenhouse.