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Responsive Coexistence:

our environment explored through systems design

Erika Krueger

Architecture Thesis 2012/13

Special Thanks To: Susan Frosten - for being a supportive instructor with critical and practical responses Alan Jalon, Eric Henery, and Sara Schue - for providing technical and organizational assistance throughout my design process

Designed and Compiled by: Erika Krueger




Research Paper


Position Paper








Building Systems


Passive Design


Water Cycles












Table of Contents


Abstract: Architecture exists in the landscape, and the landscape exists in the environment. For architecture to connect with its context it needs to be able to address it. The green movement has started to nod toward this, but has remained in the realm of human interest. By focusing on energy savings and emission reduction, the general population has become more accustom with the idea of environmental awareness. This, however, is just the beginning of environmental architecture. Buildings which address a large and widespread issue, like water quality, can start to become more ingrained in the community, culture, environment, and also start to set a precedent for future projects. There are many different ways to address water treatment; bioremediation is a way to clean water. A reason that many people do not enjoy considering new ways to manage water quality is due to human preconceptions about water treatment. Our mental block about hygiene and etiquette has inhibited progress toward better water quality. Through different methods of bioremediation, it is possible to allow architecture to change human perception of waste treatment and thus allow the building to begin to morph in order to display or efficiently utilize human waste through landscape, energy, and agriculture.


Abstract & Objectives

Educate people about water quality and contamination causes Create methodology for future buildings to follow Continue and embellish the work of others Program the building to function outside of the realm of water treatment Work locally to maximize project effectiveness


Beyond Toilets: a background in sanitation Poor sanitation is a leading cause of death in the world;

it is ranks among

AIDS, malaria, cancer, and hunger.1 One could wonder why then sanitation is not a more addressed issue. The quality of water is not only a developing world problem, but one that faces every population on the planet. Our health and environment are suffering from poor water quality. Even our innovative tenacity has neglected sanitation quality because people simply do not want to deal with it. People understand that sanitation affects the water supply which has direct implications on human health, but many places still do not value sanitation as a necessity. A reason that people are so reluctant to address human sanitation is because of a conversational taboo against defecation and menstruation. By understanding the infrastructure of the current systems and knowing options for how to improve them, we are able to talk about sanitation intelligently and can begin the conversation that will hopefully spread. For any group of people to begin understanding the flaws of their sanitation system, it is imperative to know what kind of system their community uses. The two largest categories of sanitation systems are wet and dry systems. These can break down farther into urban, rural, large scale, and local. However, even though these systems have subcategories, they are both widely used and can be looked at according to their most basic categorizations. Wet systems use water to transport and dilute human waste such as feces and urine.2 Dry systems either use no removal system other than gravity or use ash, sawdust, or sand to disinfect and transport their waste.3

1 ”Pneumonia and Diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children,” UNICEF. 2 George Tchobanoglous, Franklin L. Burton, and H. David Stensel, Wastewater Engineering: Treatment & Reuse 4th Edition, (Boston: Metcalf & Eddy, INC, 2003). 3 Sim van der Ryn, The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste & Conserving Water, (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1978).

Wet systems require large scale infrastructure. They demand pipes to carry water to and from each toilet as well as each treatment system, which can range in size and scale.4 They can be as small as a septic system that has only one home feeding into it, or they can be large enough to manage the waste of a city. There have been subtle changes made to the master plan of the piped infrastructure, but none as profound on the environment as the way in which the water is treated before is to disinfect the water with chlorine (other chemicals). This removes the toxic microbes which can transmit diseases, but it does not inhabit the growth of algae from the high nitrogen and phosphorus levels. For this, suppressants and neutralizers such as (chemicals) are added at the final stages of treatment.5 This removes the nitrogen and phosphorus, which would otherwise be responsible to large algae blooms. 6 Not all treatment facilities do this, and the ones that do are seen as progressive. Dry systems are typically only small scale operations. They work with gravity, so the waste is contained under the toilet (or latrine). There are many different versions of the latrine due to hygienic concern and sanitary measures.7 Perhaps the most successful iteration of the latrine is able to compost the solid waste that is produced to be used as fertilizer.8 In this system the liquid waste is separated and used directly 4 George Tchobanoglous, Franklin L. Burton, and H. David Stensel, Wastewater Engineering: Treatment & Reuse 4th Edition, (Boston: Metcalf & Eddy, INC, 2003). 5 Craig S. Campbell, and Michael H. Ogden, Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999). 6 Algae blooms deplete dissolved oxygen levels and prevent sunlight from penetrating the water’s surface; this inhibits animal life and submerged plant growth, thus causing the waterway to turn into an algae pond with no other life. 7 Ventilated latrines were the beginning to the latrine innovation wave. They solved the problem of how to keep smell down, as well as manage flies carrying contaminated feces. By reducing the smell, people were more willing to use the latrine over a field, which helped to contain feces. This development in dry systems was able to diminish the amount of contamination of preventable diseases among rural developing communities. 8 Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, “Access to Sanitation in Developing Countries,” Postnote, Num. 190 (December 2002).

Research Paper

reentering a waterway. The conventional method, which is used in most wet systems,


as fertilizer for its high nitrogen and phosphorus levels. Feces is not as benign upon excretion. The solid waste needs to ‘cook’ so that all of the bacteria are burned off and Color the material is excretion.9 The solid waste needs to ‘cook’ so that all of the bacteria are

Storm Water


burned off and the material is able to rearrange its chemicals to become nutritional for soil and plants. In this particular dry system, called a composting latrine, the waste is all

Dissolved Oxygen

able to be reused, and consequently illuminates the negative environmental impact that


is typically associated with dry systems.10


Latrines are typically thought of as pungent and unhygienic; however this is only Saline Water true if they are not properly maintained. Ventilated, composting, and standard latrines Suspended Sediment can all be safe and effective ways to manage waste. The key to preventing the spread

Waste Water


of disease is by eliminating contact with feces. The way that diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and diarrhea are spread is through ingestion of contaminated feces. The easiest way to prevent ingestion is through regular hand washing after defecating

Bacteria in Water Nitrogen

and before eating.11 The latrine itself can play a key role in how easily a population is Pesticides able to come into contact with feces. Public/community latrines must be cleaned every Phosphorus day to ensure that any feces that may carry a disease is not able to be stepped in or Sewage Overflows picked up and spread in some other manner. Runoff The health concerns are not nearly as obvious in wet systems. Here, we have effectively contained waste and been able to render it harmless; however, the way in which the water and waste is treated creates more subtle problems. The water which we send through waste treatment facilities eventually ends up back in the waterways,

9 Sari Huuhtanen, and Ari Laukkanen, “A Guide to Sanitation and Hygiene for Those Working in Developing Countries,” Global Dry Toilet Club of Finland (2006). 10 Sim van der Ryn, The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste & Conserving Water, (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1978). 11 “Pneumonia and Diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children,” UNICEF.

Drinking Water

and taken into the water system once again to be used for drinking water. Potable water has to be disinfected with chlorine and other toxic chemicals. People then ingest, bathe in, clean with these chemicals which can cause long term problems. Chlorine ingestion has been linked with miscarriages in women; increased levels of fluoride has been shown to wither bones and teeth; lead has been proven to decrease brain function in growing minds.12 13 14 These are all chemicals that end up in potable water Even communities which do not rely on piped water for their drinking source have to be wary of contamination from treatment facilities. The chemicals and sludge15 that is produced is able to leach into the ground and ground water. Once a ground water supply is contaminated, it has devastating effects on the environment that range far beyond human health. The spring where the ground water emerges becomes the beginning to a long river of environmental degradation. Chemicals kill plants and animals in the river. Once the plants along the river die, there is no root system to hold back the river banks and erosion takes hold. After that, the water ways farther downstream are unable to cope with the surge of sediment and chemicals, and the process starts all over again, slowly creeping down the river. Eventually it will pose a problem to people, who now draw contaminated water up and must heavily treat it in

Research Paper

due to disinfection and transportation practices.

order for it to be considered potable once more.

12 David L. Sedlak, and Urs von Gunten, “The Chlorine Dilemma,” Science 7, 331, no. 6013 (2011). 13 What are the long-term effects of ingesting fluoride on our bones? online forum, Fluoride is a bioaccumulator and is toxic to bones, 14 Oliver David, Barbara Mcgann, Stanley Hoffman, Jeffrey Sverd, and Julian Clark, “Low Lead Levels and Mental Retardation,” The Lancet, 308, no. 8000 (1976). 15 Sludge is the resulting material from primary treatment. It is the solid waste that settles at the bottom of tanks and is cleared and dumped out to make way for more solid waste.


A way that people have found to change this cycle of chemical treatment is to reintroduce plant life and ecological forces into the treatment process. John Todd, a biological researcher, invented what he called a ‘living machine’. This system uses plants and animals to transform harmful microbes in human waste into helpful nutrients. This process has been further studied and refined into a more broad system called bioremediation. Bioremediation is basically a living machine, but it has been adapted in a way which allows it to function on large and small scales in all sorts of sites, including brown fields. How the system works is by using gravity to separate out the solid and liquid waste, just like a conventional system, but the secondary treatment does not involve chemicals. The secondary treatment uses the microbes that reside in plant roots to transform the hazards of human waste into a nutrient rich water source that is capable of supporting specific plant and animal life. The reason that this system is different from expelling primarily treated water directly into a river or lake is that the outfall environment was specifically designed to manage the toxins coming into it.16 These systems act like natural wetlands, which purify water and provide habitat for a multitude of plants and animals. Constructed wetlands do the same basic function, but are created by people.

16 Craig S. Campbell, and Michael H. Ogden, Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999).

Secondary Treatment

Tirchiary Treatment

Bioremediation Treatment

Requirements for Conventional Systems

Requirements for Bioremediation Systems

Land Requirement of: 1 acre/ 1000 people

Land Requirement of: 2 acres/ 1000 people

Electricity to run large machinery

Electricity to run small pumps

Sludge creation

Sludge immediatly is reused as fertilizer

Ongoing dredging of sludge

Initial plant costs

Ongoing chemical costs

Attracts wildlife which has been losing habitat

High operational costs + Moderate initial costs

Low operational costs + Moderate/High initial costs

Research Paper

Primary Treatment


In order to safely manage waste water, constructed wetlands are engineered to treat up to a specific amount of water.17 By understanding this, water treatment facilities (which already know how much water is treated in a day/month/year) can accurately predict how much wetland space they would need in order to offset their chemical usage with bioremediation. Individual buildings can also determine how much space could be needed in order to manage their own waste water. Water treatment is not the only way that current sanitation systems fall short; the user facilities also help to create a mindset of indifference, which impedes conversation and also technological developments.18 Populations have been exposed to facilities that negate human function in terms of women’s menstruation and need for privacy.19 This is another fact that is most easily seen in developing countries. Unrelated women and men are forced to share the same latrines, which can create serious problems in cultures with strict laws and traditions regarding purity.19 the same latrines, which can create serious problems in cultures with strict laws and traditions regarding purity.20 Even where religion is not a heavy regulator of contact between the woman menstruating and the rest of society, women and men still need to have private space where they can use the toilet without worrying if someone will walk in and see them. A large reason that many adolescent girls drop out of school in developing countries is due to a lack of private toilet space.21 If the facilities that get built provided nothing else but separate

17 John Todd, and Beth Josephson, “The Design of Living Technologies for Waste Treatment,” Ecological Engineering (1996). 18 David Lane, “Hierarchy, Complexity, Society,” University of Modena and Reggio Emilia 19 Miranda Farage, Kenneth W. Miller, and Ann Davis, “Cultural Aspects of Menstruation & Menstruational Hygiene in Adolescents,” Expert Reviews (2011). 20 In many religions women are not allowed to touch anyone while menstruating. It is believed that during a woman’s period, that she is unclean and is able to contaminate others through touch and thus taint spiritual purity. Men in these cultures are forbidden to see any signs of menstruation for fear of contamination. 21 Girls in developing countries do not have money to spend on disposable menstruation products and consequently use rags, leaves, sand, or other absorbent materials that can be found. This means that they need discrete places to clean and store their reusable cloth.

bathrooms for boys and girls the female students are more likely to remain in school.22 In the United States, we have a pretty good grasp on providing privacy between the sexes, but there is still room to improve the experience of using the bathroom. Users can get an experience that allows the bathroom to feel much more luxurious than how it is currently portrayed. Many corporate organizations have already begun designing luxurious bathrooms in their offices or hotels. These groups have started the bar for what people should expect. This concept of ‘raising the bar’ is exactly what is expected to come from people talking more about sanitation and the solutions that can be put into place to eliminate chemical use and environmental degradation. With a new understanding of how sanitation systems work, how it affects water quality, and how we can make those systems better, it is possible to start changing our entire infrastructure. With a system that does not hide water treatment, and with user facilities that celebrate the bathroom then we can expect people to become more willing to talk about sanitation. By talking about sanitation, people are more educated and they can expect more from the systems that manage their waste.

Research Paper

to get people talking about the experience of the bathroom and have started to raise

22 Julie Fisher, “For Her it’s Big Issue: putting women at the centre of water supply, sanitation and hygiene,” report_2006_en.pdf (accessed December 6, 2012).


Our Bodies, Our Waters: a new precedent in sanitation Architects have considered new and efficient ways to address many different building systems. There is a variety of unique ways to heat and cool a building; windows can be made to minimize solar radiation, or to embrace it. Materials have begun to be made from recycled goods; electricity is generated from the environment and is not as reliant on fossil fuels to run the building. It is now the time for architects, clients, and legislators to begin thinking of human waste as a resource rather than a useless byproduct. Through different methods of bioremediation, it is possible to allow architecture to change human perception of waste treatment and thus allow the building to begin to morph in order to display or efficiently utilize human waste through landscape, energy, and agriculture.23 In architecture programs, there is a deliberate effort for the students to understand the relationship between the building and the ground. It is up to the individual student to choose to what degree the ground will be engaged, but there is no denying that it is a consideration at the beginning of every project. Bioremediation spaces, such as constructed wetlands, offer functional ways for architects and designers to bring human activity and building systems out into the landscape, or to bring the landscape into the building systems.24 Green roofs have had great success integrating plant life and using it as a main function of the building.25 Similar to how green roofs manage storm water on site, so too can bioremediation be thought of as a way to manage waste water on site.

23 Beyond Toilets: a background in sanitation 24 Liat Margolis, and Alexander Robinson, Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies, (Basel, Germany: Birkhauser Verlag AG, 2007). 25 Green roofs retain/detain water, while acting as insulation for the roof and offering aesthetic value to what could have been an asphalt roof. These systems have been made so that they are affordable, modular, customizable, and elaborate. They all hold water (main function) but their aesthetic value and ability to be occupied is variable.

No matter how elaborate or simple the plant and animal life is inside of a constructed wetland system, the bioremediation method will allow waste to be transformed into clean water.26 A secondary goal of using bioremediation systems to manage waste water is the ability to let buildings change the way in which many people think about water treatment. People tend to think of waste water treatment as an extension of their toilets, and therefore do not want to know where it goes or how it is done.27 Human’s innate disgust for feces is shared among most mammals; however, unlike most mammals, our for feces that has hindered the development of waste water systems and the facility in which it is hidden. The current treatment facility buildings come into existence is based upon a social opinion of their program. Treatment facilities are typically cheaply made box structures that provide little architectural interest due to their lack of integration with the site and surrounding community. Consequently, people do not appreciate the typology that has come from treatment facilities, which only drives the desire for the facilities to be hidden. Creating a building that exudes importance has largely been dependent upon the program and how easily it can be embraced by the community. Libraries, museums,

Position Paper

waste is never reused by other creatures.28 It is because of this disgust that we have

government buildings, and schools all have been expressed in monumental ways because their program is regarded as important to societal progress. This same mindset can be exhibited in certain services like bridges, vehicles, computer technology, and communications; however, it is not found in services such as water treatment, electric

26 Craig S. Campbell, and Michael H. Ogden, Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999). 27 K. B. Khatri, “Challenges for Urban Water Supply & Sanitation in the Developing Countries,” UNESCO - IHE Institute for Water Education (June 2007). 28 Valerie Curtis, “Dirt, Disgust, & Disease: A Natural History of Hygiene,” Community Health (2007).


generators, fuel stations/refineries or landfills. A high level of interaction with a service is what makes them desirable to design, which is why computer technologies, bridges, and vehicles are so handsomely considered.29 The services which people do not want to think much about are generally the ones which have a negative impact on the environment in a heavy handed way.30 The claim can easily be made that none of our grand buildings would function properly without the services that the ‘lesser’ buildings provide. For this reason, it is imperative for people to understand what really goes into making our lives run smoothly. People do not know where their sewage is treated, nor do they know which electric plant turns on their lights. This ignorance is what has led to underdevelopment in the fields of energy and also waste water treatment. However, now that there is a boom in sustainable technology development, it is becoming more important to use these advancements to start allowing people to see that services like water treatment and energy collection can be beautiful in their own rite. By allowing building systems – such as water treatment – to be displayed, the architect is giving the building users a chance to engage with the building on a more intimate level than buildings that have their mechanics hidden or displaced. This increased level of interaction will allow people to appreciate the systems and understand how they work. It is through this understanding that societal change can happen and can spark new construction to engage building systems in a similar way. The basic thought is that by exposing people to one project that addresses water treatment through obviously

29 David Lane, “Hierarchy, Complexity, Society,” University of Modena and Reggio Emilia 30 For a long time coal mining and oil drilling have been essential to our lives, yet people did not take the time to think about the method in which coal and oil are collected. Vehicles start to bridge the gap in this concept. Cars give us more mobility and freedom than we can achieve on our own or through public transportation, so they are perceived as more of a gain than they seem to be an environmental detriment. This (I believe) is the reason that people are still fond of vehicles even though they are environmentally hazardous.

Position Paper 14

displayed bioremediation, they will begin to talk about it with other people. This form of advocacy that has been successful in getting other uncomfortable topics discussed and understood. The AIDS movement is a good example of how conversation can lead to understanding and how that can lead to social change. Through conversation, people were able to become educated about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, how to protect against it, what the symptoms are, and most importantly they were able to relieve the stigma associated with the disease.31 It is through the dilution of the stigma/taboo that people were truly able to come up with meaningful ways to manage HIV/AIDS. Similarly, it is just as important to dissolve the stigma against waste water treatment and allow people to see that it can be a system that works naturally, and can enhance their experience through a space – whether it is exterior or interior. By addressing waste water treatment on a local level, people will be able to understand it better which will help to get the shift started. There is a greater sense of pride when a member of the local community is able to accomplish something that will help the group as opposed to someone outside of the community telling them what to do and how to do it.32 Generally people of the area are more equipped

31 AIDS United online forum, HIV Stigma: Standing in the Way of an AIDS-Free Generation, http:// 32 Huuhtanen, Sari, and Ari Laukkanen. “A Guide to Sanitation and Hygiene for Those Working in Developing Countries.” Global Dry Toilet Club of Finland. (2006).

Position Paper

Bioremediation in the Building

Integration with Land




Expression of Building Systems

Water Distribution





with understanding to what degree a project of this nature will be supported or embraced. This allows for greater success in the project which helps build the reputation for waste water bioremediation. People need time to see the successes found in other areas, so that they can learn from and understand how the systems work and how bioremediation can work in their community. For a project –or series of projects – to successfully begin a paradigm shift, it must be founded in a set of rules that can be easily applied to subsequent projects with varied programs and scales. The main goal to consider is: the use of bioremediation as a system within the building – not necessarily the focus of the program. Additionally to teach professionals – such as architects, engineers, developers, business people, and politicians – about the issues surrounding water quality and allow them to understand what the options are for treating waste water would be a growing asset to the built environment. Engaging with an open audience can help change the opinion of the population, supporting the surrounding community both ecologically and economically, allowing the general population to understand why changing the sanitation system is necessary, and empowering people to advocate for ecological solutions even though there may be large amounts of controversy surrounding an issue are all goals of the project that can only be framed by the building but require active participation from the community in order to achieve. Every building designer should feel able to embrace the opportunity to retain, reform, and reuse waste and storm water within any building. The proposed building will act as a role model in that way, by allowing the program to function both in terms of a separate building, and as a waste water treatment method. Many times sustainability

33 These types of projects challenge what people think is correct and hygienic. Most people will cringe if they are told that they drink water that was previously used to flush their toilet.

becomes the concept and not the system in a design; this building proposal will help to alter the mindset of the designer to use green technology, not for the publicity, but because it is in the best interest of the client as well as the built and natural environments.34 A new standard for how to engage with green technology will be set by allowing the green systems, and traditional systems, to interact with the building in a more visible way. By allowing the building systems to come to the forefront of the design, they in turn come to the forefront of consciousness. People see them and they begin to wonder how they work. This curiosity can spark understanding or it can be Architecture in the modern sense has been addressing the human psyche for a while now. Designers have been trying to come up with ways to create an experience that will leave a lasting impression. This impression could be one of discomfort and confusion – deconstructivism – or it could be one that is deeply rooted in a particular place – critical regionalism.36 The impression that bioremediation systems intend to make is one of integration and connectivity. People who use buildings with natural systems can experience the exterior environment in a controlled way and can begin to understand more about their specific place. These buildings will also give people the ability to experience designed landscapes and architecture that support each other

Position Paper

brushed off as bizarre.35

rather than compete with one another. The ideas of total system immersion stems from a blend of critical regionalism and the green technologies movement.

34 Lance Hosey, “Toward a humane Environment: Sustainable Design & Social Justice,” Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism, ed. Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford (New York: Bellerophon Publications, 2008). 35 This is the same concept that is being applied to the macro-level waste water facility within the societal context. By exposing the mechanical systems, which are typically hidden, the building can be better understood and the technologies used will begin to improve because of a greater level of engagement with building users.


The crux is to inspire designers to work in a similar way, to begin to shift the paradigm from application of systems for sustainable and functional purposes to one that gets its genesis in how the systems want to work together and in finding the best way to achieve their fullest potential. Systems development has been occurring for many years now due to an increased interest in energy performance; this is just the beginning of what architects can achieve in buildings. By allowing all of the systems to start working together, the building can coordinate thermal comfort, hydrology, respiration, structure and filtration.37 These can all save energy, which is one of the largest contributing factors to global warming. By understanding how the mechanical, water distribution, structure, lighting, and circulation can work most efficiently, the building will start to come together in a way that is more logical and results in a more ecological product. These efficiencies can be found in any type of system, regardless of the technology. It is the technology that allows the entire system to function at a high efficiency.distribution, structure, lighting, and circulation can work most efficiently, the building will start to come together in a way that is more logical and results in a more ecological product. These efficiencies can be found in any type of system, regardless of the technology. It is the technology that allows the entire system to function at a high efficiency. By combining bioremediation techniques with efficient systems, people are able to start using the by products from the aquatic remediation, like fish and aquatic plants. These two commodities can be sold for a profit, which gives the owner an added incentive to choose bioremediation systems over convention piped systems.38 The production of

36 Michael Fazio, Marian Moffett, and Lawrence Wodehouse, A World History of Architecture, (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2008). 37 Leonard R. Bachman, Integrated Buildings: the systems basis of architecture, (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003). 38 Sim van der Ryn, The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste & Conserving Water, (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1978).

fish can help to put a dent in larger urban issues of food supply or locally raised food product. Urban areas are prone to food shortages because of high population and low food production.39 By allowing water treatment facilities to supply fish to the local markets, people can also begin to understand that water treatment is not always something that has to be hidden. Utilizing the fish produced is another way that water treatment can begin to be celebrated within a culture. Another way that bioremediation can be used as a profitable gain is from the new and large supply of aquatic plants. Storm water management is a large issue in many from the nutrient rich treatment facilities can make storm water management more affordable for individuals and also for large communities. This is possible because there will be an abundant supply of aquatic plants to go in retention ponds, or in bioswales, therefore driving the cost down and making the plants more accessible to the urban population. By making it easier to create natural water treatment systems, more people will be willing to use them and construct them. Aquatic plants to go in retention ponds, or in bio-swales, therefore driving the cost down and making the plants more accessible to the urban population. By making it easier to create natural water treatment systems, more people will be willing to use them and construct them.

Position Paper

places with high levels of impervious surface. The number of aquatic plants produced

20 39 Marc J. Cohen, and James L. Garrett, “The Food Price Crisis and Urban Food (in)security,� Urbanization and Emerging Population, no. 2.

Integration building systems, with landscape, and human impact is what one aspect to the complexity of society that will help drive architecture into the next phase of environmental architecture. A heavy engagement of human interaction with building systems will allow people to understand them and their importance more. This can be said about the services that are provided on a large scale also. Waste water treatment plants are viewed negatively because of their hidden nature and the way water is chemically treated. People do not want to talk about topics like these and therefore little to no progress is made. By allowing people to see how water is naturally treated they will have a greater respect for water treatment and will start talking about it and raising awareness for even more progress to be made. Architecturally the same can be said. By making thermal comfort, hydrology, respiration, structure, filtration a priority there will be a greater appreciation of them. Any social change takes time, but by addressing it bluntly, there is a greater chance for success.

Teach professionals how to do it

Bring the Experience to People Lead by Example

Simplify without losing Purpose Plan for Tomorrow AND Today


Clean Water

Explain why it’s Important Change people’s Perceptions


Position Paper 22

Living Machine John Todd Todd was the creator of bioremediation systems which he calls ‘living machines’ used to treat waste water. These systems have since been embellished through many different processes and have been implemented both inside in conditioned environments and outside in more mild to tropical climates.

Precedents 24

Bioremediation Park Sydney, Australia McGregor & Partners This former BP site had contaminated soil from the toxic chemicals and oils that were previously spilled over the ground. McGregor & Partners created a series of viewing ports over bioremediation circles. Sydney was highlighted from the park’s location across the bay.

Precedents 26

Sidwell Friends School Washington D.C., USA Keirran Timberlake, Andropogon, and Natural Systems International Quakers put a great emphasis on environmental stewardship, which is one of the reasons that this building is so well integrated. They take the waste water out of the building and treat it on-site with tanks and constructed wetlands. These wetland also manage storm water through rain gardens. It is so central to the building because it functions as an outdoor classroom as well as landscape intervention. The architects also looked closely at all of the passive strategies and how they can work together on the site and in the building.

Precedents 28

Besos River Barcelona, Spain The Besos is used as an effluent dump, which caused downstream Barcelona to have a river of sewage running through the city. The city’s counsel decided to start an initiative to restore the river way. The climate has a dry and rainy seasons, which causes the river to experience droughts and floods. The city decided to implement constructed wetlands all along the river. This creates a linear park as well as improved quality for the water, people, and health of the city.

Precedents 30

Facility of Water Quality: bringing our best and worst to light The main goal of this place is for people to have an experience that allows them




Fun and educational place to bring the kids for a day

Sanitation Workers

Required for training


Designers could come to check out the system that is used or hear expert lectures

Decision Makers

Legislators and counselpeople can come to learn about the systems being used and how they can be to the benefit of the city if implemented on a larger scale


Teachers can bring their classes to learn about water and how we affect it through our use and treatment of it

to learn about water quality and the factors that influence it; the expected result of people learning about water quality is for them to advocate for the existing systems to change so that they are healthier for people and the environment. For this reason, cultural pieces have always been looked to for as a way to start social change. Artists and scientists have been among the first people within society to address topics that are uneasily discusses. Museums are the highlight of the art world; for an artist to be featured in a museum is a great honor and says that their statements have been accepted by society enough for the work to be considered worth displaying. Research facilities are where scientist are able to discover new facts about the world and can heavily influence society’s way of life. By combining these two concepts, it is possible to get a program which is based in science, but allows for artistic intervention – which appeals to the general population. Another goal of the project is to provide education about sanitation systems so that existing waste water facilities can explore options, and researchers can hold seminars to further expand the learning which people can experience. The basic user groups that are expected to visit the building are: families, school groups, scientists, business people, and legislators. They each have different reasons for visiting, and will be able to have different reactions to the place. Educational exploration spaces are important to the goal of the building. Changing


Sculpture Gardens Experimentation Space

opinions starts with formable minds, either those who are open to ideas of change or

Sanitation Workers

children. To cater toward children there needs to be places for them to quantify and

Facility Tour and Demonstrations

see the differences that can be made in water quality. Children and researchers can measure the quality of the water before it enters a constructed wetland, and then after it has gone through the system. They can see the plant and animal growth that can come from simple changes like the elimination of chemicals in a water treatment system.

Decision Makers

Lecture Museum


Video Display


Meeting Rooms Art Gallery

School Groups

People can learn how to change behaviors at home, or how to expect their area to do the right thing rather than what is conventional. Most importantly this type of education can empower children to become active in their community, their environment, their schools, or whatever they find their passion to be. The children who embrace the ideas of innovation from the research and exploration center will be able to challenge the status quo in the future and on a variety of scales. Families are drawn to places where children are allowed to explore and learn through touching and doing. In order for the building to welcome children it must provide exploration and experimentation spaces which expose the children to different aspects of water quality and the ways in which we treat waste. These spaces can be interior, but should definitely include exterior elements. Parents typically feel more comfortable having their children explore and play if they are in a secure exterior environment than they also need more regimented learning spaces. The school made the decision to bring the students for a specific purpose, and therefore learning opportunities need to be given in a way that is framed for children and adolescents. These spaces should be interior for more formalized learning, and then exterior spaces can be used for experimental space.


inside of a public building. School groups also need places to play and explore, but

Water quality research centers teach ecologically friendly methods of water treatment. People will have the opportunity to see what a new water treatment facility – which houses and treats all of a building’s waste and storm water – can look like, as well as learn how they can improve upon existing systems. The most hazardous and expensive part of current water treatment systems is dumping chemicals into the


Children Play and Learn Love for the Earth Production Responsibility Restoration Laboratory Quality Research Lectures and Seminars Constructed Wetland

Experiments Learn thro gh Doing

water to neutralize the nitrogen and phosphorus from human waste.12 This part of the process that can be 100% replaced by living machines and constructed wetlands. They are natural systems that neutralize the water so that chemicals are no longer needed and will restore the fish and plant life that helps to define a healthy waterway. A crucial piece to the program puzzle is how the building will engage with the community. The goal for the building is to take on storm water and perhaps waste water from surrounding space to clean it and reuse it. By cleaning the space around the site, the building opens the opportunity for the public to engage with the site as a space in which they can recreate. The park that is can become an educational park with signs and experiment zones set up for public use. It could however function just as well as a piece of landscape that does not intend to educate, but helps to draw people into the building. by exposing them to things that they may not otherwise see. Art, fashion, science, religion, culture, nature, technology, and human behavior all are topics that museums already address. For this reason, displays will be set so that people can experience different reactions to water quality. Some of these art pieces will be hung work, which will be protected from floods, and others will be weather resistant landscape features.


Museums are critical pieces of culture that help to inform and sway people

Through these exhibits we can also start to see how people around the world also view water quality, specifically in regard to human waste. People can see how economic status affects the facilities that exist around the world, and what consequences that has on the health of that area. The displays will be focused on the environment and health; they will allow people to see that the treatment of human waste is critical to a

12 John Todd, and Beth Josephson, “The Design of Living Technologies for Waste Treatment,� Ecological Engineering (1996).


safe and clean water which leads to a healthier population of not only humans but wild animals who keep the ecosystem thriving.14 A population of people targeted by the building program is decision makers of the area, people who are investors, legislators, business people, and facility operators. It will be these people who have the ability to change what the current situation is for our water treatment system. Investors can choose to encourage designers or projects that include natural systems in their programs. Legislators have the ability to pass laws, acts, or code that mandate the use of limited or total natural systems in new construction. Business people are able to get ideas for new products or pieces of the green market that are unfilled and necessary for a smooth transition to natural systems. They can also start to break down the financial gains of using natural systems by creating business plans that other companies and facilities can take on. Facility operators will be more open to suggesting changes at their company meetings or implementing those changes in their own facilities. The overall goal of the program is to let people experience a building and landscape working together to clean water while still providing the necessary functions for the research center. With luck and guided visits, it is possible for this way of building becomes a staple in architecture. The green movement has started out well, focusing on energy savings and lowered emission, but this project is looking to take the next step. This is the truest goal of the project, to set the ground work for other architects to follow with projects which also utilize bioremediation in standard buildings.

13 Craig S. Campbell, and Michael H. Ogden, Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999). 14 K. B. Khatri, “Challenges for Urban Water Supply & Sanitation in the Developing Countries,� UNESCO - IHE Institute for Water Education (June 2007).

Program 36

Site Criteria: Should be able to take storm water from surrounding site Relates to the waste water in Philadelphia Gives greatest benefit to the downstream community Possibly projects to outfall sites Affects the river’s quality Not a green field site

Take on Water from Surrounding Site

NOT Green Field

River Quality

Downstream Benefit

Outfall Sites

Waste Water in Philadelphia

Role Model: start of something new There are many examples of great projects and ideas that did not succeed purely because of their location. In choosing a site, there must be guidelines put into place so that a site can be chosen that will foster the success of the project, not hinder it. The general location of the site should be local to the designer, the site should also not be a green field, it should have access to a waterway, as well as access to a welcoming community with economic potential, By siting an exploration/research center in Philadelphia the project is able to rely not only on objective information, but subjective experience. Locals have opinions about how things should be and they know what the issues really are in their area. Some of these issues can never be revealed by objective data collection. Locals understand their area and may not have the most innovative ideas or solutions, but they have solutions that tend to work well for them. By siting the project in some far away location, the designer is not able to truly experience what some of the real water that work on paper, but are not realistic for those living there. By designing where we live, architects, engineers, and planners are able to make the most educated solutions to problems that they experience and they are forced to live with the full consequence


quality problems and their sources really are. The designer might make suggestions

– good or bad – of their decisions. When architects, owners, and developers chose to build on a green field they are not only ignoring all of the existing benefits of the urban context, but they are also eliminating potential habitat for plants and animals. Infrastructure already exists on developed sites, which makes it that much easier and less expensive to utilize them in a way that works for a new project. By reusing existing impervious surfaces, the project is able to give new life to the site and diminish the impact of an abandoned or vacant space that previously contributed to storm water run-off and water quality


detriment. The adjacency to a large body of water is ideal because of the easy access to take in and emit water. In Philadelphia, these two bodies of water are the Schuylkill and the Delaware River. Not only will the proximity to the river be an asset for the constructed wetland, but it will also help to make a strong statement about what the project stands for. The most important goal is to improve water quality so that aquatic life can return to the rivers. For this reason, all of the sewage outfall sites were analyzed for


potential development around them, but the spaces are not conducive to a program of this magnitude. The museum district is another appropriate place to start investigating sites, but still there is not an adequate place near the water that the building could fulfill all of its goals. It is in Manayunk, on a sliver of land flanked by the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk canal that all of the goals of the building’s program can be realized. This site is not a green field; it has an abandoned and mostly demolished building on it, as well as large paved surfaces. It is also near the water, which allows it to take river


water that is passing by and clean it up before allowing it to move the rest of the way through Philadelphia on its way to the ocean. In addition to it being near the naturalized Schuylkill River, it also is near the highly recreational towpath. This offers the opportunity to improve a community space by adjusting the water quality. The area around the site is also young and welcoming. People are constantly on main street, either between the shops during the day or at the bars at night. This gives the center plenty of opportunity to draw larger crowd and help the local economy.

Demolished Factory and Parking

Water Flow


Site: 217800 sq. ft. 5 Acres 2.02 Hectares Commercial Residential Park Community Interest


Existing To Stay

Existing Footprint


Possible Wetland

Spring Summer Fall Winter

Responsive Coexistence: our environment explored through systems design

the e Building Building,, the Site Site,, and the Water coexist in a responsive system that allows for climatic, ecological, and behavioral changes. Environmental Systems

Site Systems

quality movement habitat resource

Building Systems



42 Analyze. Balance. Co-Existence. Comfort. Contextual. Flow. Responsive. Harmony. Informed. Primary.

Upstream in the Manayunk Canal are stormwater outfall sites. These outfalls create problems with the overall health of the canal, as well as add to the problems that are in the Schuylkill itself. Put together these factors all create a hazardous environment for the wildlife who call (or used to call) the Schuylkill River home. Many of these fish and birds need particular habitats to spawn/nest, as well as feeding areas. As people living in a flood plane, it is an obligation to provide habitat as well as practice minimally invasive construction techniques. In the flood plane especially, the environment is king. The way the earth is treated next to water, affects wildlife habitat, human habitat, and the cost that is spent to clean the water from these very rivers to send into our homes as drinking water.

When consumed bacteria causes gastrointestinal problems in humans and wildlife. Nutrients come from fertilizers and cause algae blooms which kill fish by taking oxygen out of water. Hazardous wastes come from our streets, which are covered in oil and grease.

Debris is the most obvious example of water pollution. It fills the river with rubbish, which is sometimes mistaken for food, and causes other obsticals for fish and birds.

Sediments comes from construction sites or other areas where soil is not properly treated.

Clear Water ground water, rain water, surface water, condesation

remediate so that it can be brought back as clear water

treat with UV filter (s) to clarify

White Water

Green Water

potable water, drinking water

treated water that can be synomous with clear water

collect from water fountains, hand washing sinks,

send to wastewater wetland

Grey Water bathing/cleaning water (without chemical contamination)

Yellow Water water mixed with urine

Black Water water that has touched fecal matter, or meat

use to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping

Site 44

By designing the building to take advantage of the natural winds and solar access, a large portion of the heating and cooling can be done passively.

Passive Cooling

Passive Heating

Stormwater Management and Masterplan

Building Systems:

Passive Design



Radiant Heating and Cooling

Building Systems:

Water Cycles

Potable Water

Sewage Water Any water that is brought into the buildings is used to its fullest extent until it is then discharged and cleansed before being released into the environment again.


Water flows over the edge of the living machine. this feeds the reservoir, which pumps out to the jets.

Building Systems:

Water Cycles Water from the wastewater wetland flows through a living machine and returns to the quality of ground water. Once it has been cleansed, the water is allowed to flow through motion activated jets. The jets will only shoot water up to playful children when there is water in the reservoir. This teaches children that recreational water is a limited condition and that sometimes you can not use it for fun.


Building Systems:


Potable Hot Supply Potable Cold Supply Greywater Return/Supply Blackwater Return


The building’s program is a laboratory building with research focused on water quality and environmental health. It conducts educational outreach through children’s programs full of experimentation and discovery as well as adult programs based in lecture and observation. A project of the laboratory building is to restore the quality of the Manayunk Canal. The canal runs behind many restaurants and residences. The laboratory is trying to get the water quality to a point where it may be used with minimal to no additional treatment as potable drinking water.

Minimum Program Space Per Person

342 Square Feet

Laboratory Space

181.5 sq. ft.

Laboratory Support Space

90.5 sq. ft.

Research Staff Office

30 sq. ft.

Ancillary Space (mechanical)

9 sq. ft.

Laboratory Administration

31 sq. ft.



Aquatic Toxicology Lab


Children’s Understanding Center


Ecosystem Engineering Design Lab


Wetland Soil and Geospatial Engineering Lab 20



Laboratory Space 9%

Laboratory Support Space Research Staff Office 53%

Ancillary Space 26%

Laboratory Administration

Aquatic Toxicology Lab Ecosystem Engineering Design Lab Wetland Soil and Geospacial Engineering Lab Children's Understanding Center

(sq. ft. = occupants x 342)

Max. Number of Visitors (30) 3,000 sq. ft.

(sq. ft. = occupants x 100)

Pre Circulation Total

16,680 sq. ft.

(total staff + visitors)


1,668 sq. ft.

(pre-circulation x .1)

Total Program Requirements

18,348 sq. ft.

(pre-circulation + circulation)

Building Systems:

13,680 sq. ft.


Total Staff (40)


Building Systems:


Vehicular Access Laboratory Greenhouse Administration Mechanical Gathering Wastewater Wetland Stormwater Wetland Pedestrian Egress


Structure without Flooding

Structure with Flooding













100 year flood will cover into 35ft. elevation, which whic h is 20 ft. above the elevation of the site. The building acknowledges the flood and works with it by elevating conditioned spaces. All black water is kept above the 25 year storm flood height.





Building Systems:







Whether biking or walking on the Schuylkill River Trail in Manyunk, access to the water quality research laboratory is given via a ramping bridge. This procession allows people to constantly be engaged with the constructed wetland before entering the building. Biking is encouraged as a mode of transportation for building users, and architecturally represented through hanging bike racks at the building’s main entry. Cars must use the parking lot on the remains of the paper factory, which allows car users to walk through the landscape before entering the building again. This is also the drop off point for any school groups who will be greeted at the outdoor meeting theater near the stair entrance.

Building Systems: Entry


Works Referenced: Adler, Robert W., and Trish Mace. Recycle Wastewater. Water: Opposing Viewpoints. Edited by Carol Wekesser. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, INC, 1994. Bachman, Leonard R. Integrated Buildings: the systems basis of architecture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003. Burke, William K. Natural Methods of Treating Sewage Water Can Reduce Pollution. Water: Opposing Viewpoints. Edited by Carol Wekesser. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, INC, 1994. Campbell, Craig S., and Michael H. Ogden. Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999. Cohen, Marc J., and James L. Garrett. “The Food Price Crisis and Urban Food (in)security.” Urbanization and Emerging Population. no. 2 . Curtis, Valerie. “Dirt, Disgust, & Disease: A Natural History of Hygiene.” Community Health. (2007). David, Oliver, Barbara Mcgann, Stanley Hoffman, Jeffrey Sverd, and Julian Clark. “Low Lead Levels and Mental Retardation.” The Lancet. 308. no. 8000 (1976). Design Like You Give a Damn. New York: Metropolis Books, 2006. Farage, Miranda, Kenneth W. Miller, and Ann Davis. “Cultural Aspects of Menstruation & Menstruational Hygiene in Adolescents.” Expert Reviews. (2011). Fazio, Michael, Marian Moffett, and Lawrence Wodehouse. A World History of Architecture. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2008.

Fisher, Julie. “For Her it’s Big Issue: putting women at the centre of water supply, sanitation and hygiene.” . evidence_report_2006_en.pdf (accessed December 6, 2012). “Fluoride is a bioaccumulator and is toxic to bones.” (online forum). What are the long-term effects of ingesting fluoride on our bones?. http:// (accessed December 6, 2012). Gans, Deborah. Unbearable Lightness. Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. Edited by Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford. New York: Bellerophon Publications, 2008. “HIV Stigma: Standing in the Way of an AIDS-Free Generation.” (online forum message). AIDS United. (accessed December 6, 2012). Justice. Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. Edited by Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford. New York: Bellerophon Publications, 2008. Huuhtanen, Sari, and Ari Laukkanen. “A Guide to Sanitation and Hygiene for Those Working in Developing Countries.” Global Dry Toilet Club of Finland. (2006).


Hosey, Lance. Toward a humane Environment: Sustainable Design & Social

Khatri, K. B. “Challenges for Urban Water Supply & Sanitation in the Developing Countries.” UNESCO - IHE Institute for Water Education. (June 2007). Margolis, Liat, and Alexander Robinson. Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies. Basel, Germany: Birkhauser Verlag AG, 2007.


McGlone, Matthew S., and Jennifer A. Batchelor. “Looking Out for Number One: Euphemism & Face.” Journal of Communications. 53. no. 2 (2003). Lane, David. “Hierarchy, Complexity, Society.” University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology. “Access to Sanitation in Developing Countries.” Postnote. Num. 190. (December 2002). “Pneumonia and Diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children.” UNICEF. Publications/UNICEF_pneumonia_diarrhoea_report.pdf. Sedlak, David L., and Urs von Gunten. “The Chlorine Dilemma.” Science 7. 331. no. 6013 (2011). Tchobanoglous, George, Franklin L. Burton, and H. David Stensel. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment & Reuse 4th Edition. Boston: Metcalf & Eddy, INC, 2003. Todd, John, and Beth Josephson. “The Design of Living Technologies for Waste Treatment.” Ecological Engineering. (1996). Tortajada, Cecilia. Water management in Singapore. Water Management for Large Cities. Edited by Cecilia Tortajada, Olli Varis, Jan Lundquist, and Asit Biswas. Abington, UK: Routledge, 2006. van der Ryn, Sim. The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste & Conserving Water. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1978.



Architectural Thesis  

Responsive Coexistence

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