Vascular Plant | Yonjun Jo, Eujin Julia Kim

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Vascular Plant is new type of water infrastructure combines a series of water purification processes into a single vertical, water-circulating column. This utilizes a natural water circulation system such as those found in natural forests and underground water systems that extend horizontally from mountain to river areas.

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1. Bring Infrastructure into the City _ Small, Medium to Large-Scale Operations
As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. The physical distance that typically separates urban infrastructure from residential areas means that people never think about it. This project attempts to integrate the infrastructure that makes modern life possible into the areas where people live by rethinking the form and role of infrastructure elements to adapt them to today’s highly urbanized environments. For adaptation strategy, the project develops ideas of small, medium to large-scale operations responding to various urban contexts including streets, green space, inside built-structures, and abandoned space.

2. Distributed Rather than Centralized Approaches to Treating Grey Water
The goal of this project is developing a water purification device, a new type of water infrastructure in a highly urbanized context, and exploring its adaptation potential for various urban conditions. This project will examine different types of urban conditions and reconfigure the characteristics of a new water purification device to suit each. The system is distributed rather than centralized, and easily adaptable to compact and abandoned areas adjacent to the water end-user community. Distributed and localized implementations are expected to be particularly appropriate for building a new type of grey water treatment system specifically to suit the needs of urban districts.

3. Research-based Typologies
This project can also be read as an effort to expand the role of our existing water infrastructure to include the functions of research and monitoring. Through creating an integrated system combining design application and research, the project attempts to reconsider the roles of designers and architects in the realm of research after the final design application. This is based on implementing a modular system that incorporates varying typologies (i.e. testing models) capable of measuring and monitoring the quality and quantity of grey water as well as the degree of water quality enhancement.

4. Utilizing the Form and Function of Natural Water Circulation
This new type of water infrastructure combines a series of water purification processes into a single vertical, water-circulating column. This utilizes a natural water circulation system such as those found in natural forests and underground water systems that extend horizontally from mountain to river areas. As in natural plants and their xylem and phloem structure, the new system will be composed of a series of 5m~10m vertical systems that convey grey water and organic matter, and purify them, hence the name “Vascular Plant”.

5. Involving Social Activities
The modular unit of a flexible water system can easily be located adjacent to water-use communities and may take a variety of forms to fit in with existing urban structures and programs. By combining water treatment plant functions with diverse community activities, it will provide intriguing places where people can get together to play with water and learn more about it. Displaying systems as environmental indicators will provide both educational and recreational opportunities. The systems are expected to provide a dynamic landscape experience, with various types of “Vascular Plant” incorporating display walls, floating and viewing decks, and water falls at different heights to suit users’ needs.
to function as focal point to help build the connection to the waterfront area (Penn’s landing).

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Design
The proposed system performs three functions: filtering, monitoring, and storage. “Filtering” includes vegetation, soil medium, and layered filters that are similarly structured to those in natural water circulation. In particular, it undertakes three types of water filtering sequentially: 1) plants, 2) different types of soil beds, and 3) the aeration spaces between them. The “monitoring” function incorporates a display system and control panel with sensors that show the water level and quality. The “storage” function consists primarily of an underground water tank. The grey water from the surrounding area is collected in the underground tank and pumped up to the top plate, after which it travels through the vascular system to the bottom. Water continues to circulate until it is purified.

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Small, Medium, and Large-Scale Operations: Three Types of Unit to Suit Particular Urban Conditions and Research Purposes
For adaptation strategy, this project develops ideas of small, medium to large-scale operations responding to urban context. It created different types of system for use in streets and green space, for use inside built-structures, and for utilizing leftover space. In addition, grey water treatment capacity and plant types can be tailored to suit different urban conditions or research purpose (i.e. testing models). The size of the unit will vary according to the grey water quantity and plant types, for example:
1. Small Scale Operation: Furniture type for use in streets and green space
2. Medium Scale Operation: Building structure type for use inside built-structures
3. Large Scale Operation: Park type, which utilizes leftover space

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These three types of installation are expected to be combined with other water infrastructure such as rain gardens, green roofs, bio-retention pools, and bio-swales and to function as part of a comprehensive urban water management system. This water management system will be distributed over the whole site and will also provide recreation and education opportunities for residents and visitors via facilities such as shelters, indoor and outdoor gardens, sitting and observation decks, children’s play areas and environmental indicators.

Vascular Plant
Image & Text Credit | Yonjun Jo, Eujin Julia Kim