Exploring the Architectural Integration of the Energy-Water-Food Nexus

July 28, 2015
Session T1C: How Balance Improves Quality of Life — Room 106
8:30 am  -  9:30 am

A wet market is literally wet – wet produce, wet floors, and fish, crabs and shrimp swimming in water. The wetness establishes the freshness demanded by Hong Kong (HK) consumers. Managing the flow of water through the stalls and keeping the market clean and hygienic is a demanding challenge. HK is also a remarkably wet island. There are Typhoons and monsoon rains that are sometimes so heavy they bring the city to a standstill. Managing torrents of water is a large part of building design and infrastructure in the city.

Energy is another important consideration of the wet market and urban site conditions. The production and distribution of potable water and food requires immense energy resources. The building uses significant energy for space conditioning, lighting, ventilation and refrigeration. Electricity to run pumps and filters for the wet market must be consistently reliable regardless of time and conditions. Power to the individual market vendor booths for tanks and displays, task lighting, signage, retail and specialty equipment is also needed. Carbon neutral and resilient energy strategies should be well integrated into the market concept and design.

There are around 75 public markets in HK and each contributes to the character of its neighborhood. They are owned by investors who maintain the structures and rent space to retailers. The Sai Ying Pun wet market is a machine for moving produce, sellers and customers throughout a complex three-dimensional array across a steeply sloped site. But can it be more than just infrastructure?

The paragraphs above was the challenge posed to fourth year architecture students enrolled in an accredited Bachelor of Architecture program. Through concurrent and overlapping coursework in two required courses, a 6-credit design studio and a 3-credit technical systems integration seminar, the students worked in collaborative groups to redesign the Sai Ying Pun Wet Market in Central Hong Kong. “Synthesis” between architectural design and building systems was the primary learning objective of the studio. Through the presentation of course goals and student work, this presentation will explore the Energy-Water-Food Nexus as it relates to four themes: Agriculture in the city, public space, sustainability, and identity.