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lisa tang


thrift architecture: water as a source of life


c/o adderley and strand street, cape town train station

thrift architecture, water, underground canal, reuse, reduce, recycle, sustainability, delayed space, adderley street, man, machine, nature


The concern for environmental issues, due to how society has mistreated the earth and damaged the environment, humans are now in the battle against global warming. In the world we live in today, the relationship between people, technology and climate is constantly changing. Focusing on the main issue globally and locally, I have come across Food shortage agriculturally for the out growing population and the water crisis since the drought throughout Cape Town history in 2017.

The pace of urban development between the city and the outskirts of the city has not been equal; the former being too fast and the latter too slow. The outskirts of Cape Town are mainly neglected and used as disposal spaces, recycling plants and huge farming plots that are vast but have a low rate of production, and this sudden change of scenery creates a division between the city and the outskirts.
How can we create environmental awareness through the way we package and display our design to society, by fusing the notion of reuse, reduce and recycle with architectural solutions, all using existing resources within the city of Cape Town.

Exploring the basics of ecology, ecosystem services and how it all falls into the subject of biophilic architecture. The infinite circle that creates a link between the technical and the biological proves the notion of ‘the art of living together’, just like symbiosis.
The possible architecture will aim to synchronize Man, Machine, and Urban Nature. Life on earth is chaotic because man and his tools (machines) are out of sync with nature. This issue needs to be fixed by first gaining a thorough understanding of man’s relationship to both nature and machine.

The exploration of urban nature and the technological aspects of aquaponics and hydroponics has broadened my understanding of how technology shares many similarities with natural systems, which can then be changed through human behaviors along with the urban context. The term ‘thrift’ is inherently loaded with an awareness of environmental issues.

This comes to a conclusive understanding on how biophilia, urban nature and machine become one. Reusing, reducing and recycling the water, the action of a new marketing strategy for a farming system and a new way of farming also educates future people and the farmers to produce healthier and less wasteful crops with the help of technology. Through this process, there is a conclusive way to synchronise biophilia, urban nature and machine. Working coherently in architecture, it pushes the boundary of South African city planning and it is a step towards more evolved creations between human and the machines in the future.


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