First Place
Next7 Competition

 Yuen Fung Cheung, Hong Kong
Artur Nitribitt, Poland

World urban population is expected to increase by 84 per cent by 2050. Overpopulation threatens basic life-sustaining resources, access to clean air and clean water as well as energy use, waste and pollution produced, which will eventually lead to diminishes quality of life. Over 80% of world population is currently living in urban areas, as our population grows bigger in number, the size of the cities grows bigger as a consequence of URBAN SPRAWL, the over development on green field puts extra pressure on our natural environment.

Climate change is projected to become the fastest growing driver of biodiversity loss by 2050, followed by commercial forestry. The consequent loss and degradation of urban and peri-urban green space could adversely affect ecosystems as well as human health and wellbeing.


Courtesy of Yuen Fung Cheung and Artur Nitribitt – Next7 Competition

Social and cultural context:

“Why is it that we don’t seem to be able to adjust ourselves to the physical environment without destroying it? …..You rush home to watch an electronic reproduction of life. You can’t touch it, it doesn’t smell, and it has no taste.”    ( Philosopher, Alan Watts)

American nonfiction author Richard Louv stated that the future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual world with the real one. “The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” Prehapes the future is not about flying cars or wearable technology. The fast-paced world promotes technological consumerism brings new innovations, themes and trends. May be we should stay connect with the nature and start to design and live in smarter urban environments, combine urbanisation to return to our pastoral past through a green city which built with skyscrapers for living and working space vie with floating greenhouses or high-rise vegetable patches and green roofs. May be we should address the problem as Louv argues by reimagining our cities as engines of biodiversity and using urban planning to develop more walkable communities.

The World Health Organization defines human health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. An Ecological Economist Dr. Robert Costanza suggested a healthy ecosystem is thought of as one that is free from distress and degradation, maintains its organisation and autonomy over time and is resilient to stress. However, our urban spaces are overcrowded and polluted, what kind of city will we be living in?

Germany, Hamburg proposed the Landscape Axes of the “GrünesNetzHamburg” (Green Network) for The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) consist of green open spaces stretch from the surrounding countryside right into the city, it will constructed over the next 15-20 years to create pedestrian and cycle paths connect city’s existing green spaces and provide car-free commuter routes for all residents. Urban sprawl can be fought if we spread awareness of the problem, work to change our attitudes and living style to think globally, act locally. Being able to traverse a major city surrounded entirely by bikes, pedestrians, and green spaces is a way to achieve this goal.


Courtesy of Yuen Fung Cheung and Artur Nitribitt – Next7 Competition

Design philosophy:

To improve the quality of the live and well being of urban occupants in overpopulated cities does not necessary means to move people away from the cities, if space and quality of space contribute to human well beings, we should reassess and restructure our space in the cities to improve its quality, instead of creating further irreversible damage to our nature by urban sprawling. The project taken the view that overcrowded cities can accommodate more occupants through carefully re-structuring of space use, and quality of city lives can be improved by encourage bio-diversity into the cities.

Our proposal is to design is built dwellings from the “blank gap” in urban with Protocell, a self-growing material in a way to collaborated with biodiversity action plan and car-free movement in order to responds to climate change and urban expansion, and underpins the health, liveability and wellbeing of the city and its inhabitants.

Next7-Arch2O-Pres 2

Courtesy of Yuen Fung Cheung and Artur Nitribitt – Next7 Competition

Urban density has been rising in the last few decades and this growth seems unstoppable. But it everything is finite so the expansion of cities will reach their limit sooner or later. Therefore after an era of “master plans” designed by “masters” by the table, we must start looking for small, local actions in order to use every single space wisely. Current Urban Gaps can be found in most of the cities around the globe. Gaps of urban planning, forgotten corners, abounded streets. “Think global, act locally” we should affect our nearest environment and neighborhood, while understanding the world-wide context of our actions. That is to say, the gaps in the cities need to be used, and urban and social problems fixed. At the same time, more and more megacities are introducing complex programs for sustainability. For instance, biodiversity plans or car-free districts are among those programmes. Biodiversity means to preserve local species by providing appropriate conditions for breeding and life. In the near future, we will pay much more attention to nature and the environment as we can assume expand of green parts of the cities into the other sites.

Also, the clearing of forests for food production has been augmented by the industrialisation of agriculture and people are increasingly living in an unnatural environment. Only recently, during say the past three decades, have people begun to take the damage wrought by the industrialisation of production seriously and all the forms that takes. Our research focuses meeting line of inert buildings and living matter in urban gaps (in future cities/urban).

Next7-Arch2O-Pres 3

Courtesy of Yuen Fung Cheung and Artur Nitribitt – Next7 Competition

Growing Tomorrowfrom inert to living matter

The only way to create genuine sustainable homes and cities is by connecting them to nature, not isolate them from it, like all organisms on earth which are constantly in touch and in conversation with the nature, live can be understood as different sets of chemical reactions in action through metabolism or photosynthesis. Scholars Rachel Armstrong and Martin Hanczyc develop a line of research that deals with what is in between the ‘living’ and the ‘non-living’, and developed a Protocell.

The Protocell is a simple chemical model of a living cell, it assembles itself from chemical reaction, the cells self-reproduce on the number of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of molecules will grown into larger forms and it can be use for building structures, it can grown in any forms and therefore structure that didn’t exist or impossible to manufacture before is now possible to be produced.

We propose to “grow” a certain amount of protocell-houses in the most densely populated areas around the globe, as part of local actions, towards better life and green environmental in cities. These protocell houses can be grown in the urban gaps to complement city fabric and become link between inert and living matter. Protocells are possible to be pre-programmed to grow into any shapes and sizes, our project explore this idea to implement into the architecture.

The potential

Protocell could be pre-programmed to have a large variety of forms and characteristics, depends on chemical elements interact with. Therefore we are proposing the object, erected entirely out of self-growing material. Strength or translucency of the individual elements of the structure will be pre-programmed and develop while the building/growing process occurs.

Such a material is also possible to pre-program to grow in constant interaction with its surroundings, until a satisfied form is achieved. It will correspond the users’ needs, and response to changes in environment. This bottom-up construction approaches for architecture, contrast the current top-down methods which impose structure upon matter. Our proposal is responding to the increasing demand of better quality of city life as well as dramatic climate situation.

Courtesy of Yuen Fung Cheung and Artur Nitribitt – Next7 Competition

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