Pacific Aquariums
Research and Design Work with Design Earth

The Pacific Aquarium portrays the overlapping concerns of ecology and economy in the Pacific Ocean, where the projected 1 million square meters of deep-sea mining in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone could constitute the greatest footprint of human activity in what is considered the largest continuous ecological unit. The project appropriates the object of the aquarium to take aim at the abysmal distance between our selfish economic worries and the great scales of the earth. Rather than an image of the ocean that lies outside of human activity, the aquarium channels our sense of wonder to stage environmental externalities as an intimate part of the political constituency of the Earth. Each aquarium constructs a section of the world in which the externalities of resource exploitation and climate change are weaved into spatial scales, temporalities, and species beyond the human. Collectively, the nine aquariums reclaim the production of nature into public controversies by connecting political ecology with speculative design and collective aesthetic experience.

The Parliament of Refugees is an assembly of Anthropocene things, such as sea turtles, plastic bags, CO32− molecules, scallops, bleached corals, drowning wetlands, hammerhead sharks, algae, Homo sapiens, Brighamia rockii, Nihoa finch. The Assembly is organized around a hollow pillar that connects it to the center of the Earth through a submerged volcano.

Large-scale landfills capture floating waste, oil, fuel and detergents from the Pacific Gyres. Seawater cascades into a landfill to be filtered by a one-way membrane surface. When a marine landfill site is filled, the inverted pyramid is sealed and becomes a floating island in the sea.

Deepsea mining produces plumes that smother near-bottom species away from their habitats. A school of cyborg fish restores such habitats by collecting the plumes into a massive spherical sponge-like nest where the toxic particles are solidified and processed into energy. The fish subsequently decompose into organic sustenance for the returning species.

A catchment dome caps mining activities occurring on the ocean floor to contain localized sediment plume. Polluted water is separated from surrounding water and transported into a series of inverted water towers just below the surface for processing. Purified water is gradually released back to the ocean.

Suggested as solution to ocean acidification, iron fertilization stimulates photosynthesis in plankton converting dissolved carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. The vertical tensile structure, which contains high iron concentrations of water, extends the habitat of phytoplankton to the deep ocean attracting corals and other sea creatures to the structure.

Research and Design Team:
Design Earth (El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn)
Reid Fellenbaum, Ya Suo, Jia Weng, Shuya Xu, Saswati Das, with initial contributions from Rixt Woudstra

Project Details:
Nine 60x60cm drawings
Nine 45X45X160cm models

Concept, Design and Drawing 3 aquariums among 9

Awards: 2016 Architectural Education Award, Faculty Design Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture 2016 Best of Design Award for Architectural Representation, Honorable Mention, The Architect’s Newspaper
Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment, Cooper Union, 2017
Pacific Aquarium, Oslo Architecture Triennale, After Belonging, 2016

Copyright © 2019 Ya Suo
New York, NY