Fig: 1 - Climate change has increased the frequency of forest fires that devastates the entire ecosystem.
Plant lives going extinct is not news that one hears often, at least not as much as animal endangerment and extinction. But since the 1750s, around 600 plant species have gone extinct or been pushed to endangerment, due to human interventions and activities. These plants include species that populated a small proportion of a native place. Hence, their loss remains undiscovered or insignificant.
But this rate can cause, the most common plant species as well, to go out of existence, creating an imbalance in nature. Humans will be affected by this, in ways that might go undetected until it's too late. Without drastic measures and changes have taken immediately, we are bound to a path that will ultimately destroy ecosystems and habitats.
With the steep curve of deterioration of nature around us, it is important for us to take stock of everything we have and what we are losing. According to statistics, 75% of land and 66% of ocean systems have already changed significantly, acting as an alarm.
But what is an alarm to a sleepaholic?
Fig: 2 - Seed preservation is done in seed banks which can store up to 4.5 million seed samples.
Plants are not mere green elements of nature, but they play an essential role in human sustenance. Since their survival is in question, these sources of nutrition can be stored and protected to preserve genetic diversity for the unpredictable future. The plant stress can be combated with seed banks.
Like banks ensure financial safety, these seed banks can make sure that our civilization is more ecologically rich than it is today. They save seeds and plants as specimens, with an inventory of their composition and uses. Today, there are more than 1000 banks globally that hold all necessary seeds but are restricted for visitors. These bunkers are doomsday-proof, but aside from storage, they offer no transparency of transactions happening.
In cases where there is a need to retrieve or study one of these species or cross-refer to different origins of plants that no longer exist, just seed banks would not be enough. Making the process a selectively transparent one could help during such situations, which may not be too far into the future.
Why wait till doomsday, when the bank can be a way of spreading the message in today's times?
Fig: 3 - Seed storage is a huge challenge and needs to be supplemented by advanced technology and knowledgeable staff.
Challenge - Design a seed bank to collect and preserve local seeds and plant species.
The facility designed must include storage space, a conservatory to grow and research the plants, and a visitors centre. The design must be permeable and transparent to a certain extent, to allow visitors to learn more about the local flora. The ambience must be suitable for plants and visitors.
The aim here is to inventories various and if possible, all local plant species of the area, in order to keep track of and restore the green in the event of a disaster. The spatial organisation must focus primarily on holding a repository of seeds and plants, then research and public spaces, in order.
This facility will help generate awareness of the deteriorating condition of plants and encourage work towards being a sustainable stakeholder, to preserve the integrity of the future. The form of the structure will be as important as it will become a landmark, representative of the green movement and promotion of conservation habits.
Layout - the storage, research spaces along visitation spots must be planned in a way that the centre is easy to access and navigate for both the operators and the visitors.
Balance - the two occupants, plants and humans, are to be brought together under a single roof and so a balance must be achieved between both objectives of preservation and promotion
Technology - seeds are to be stored at a fixed temperature and thermal comfort for visitors both must be achieved at the bank
Structure - the storage section of the bank must be built to be resilient, in the case of any disaster, in the near or distant future
Sustainable - implement low impact strategies that will not harm the environment, with proper resource management and avoiding wastage.
Context - a thorough investigation must be done about the site context and its conditions, so the centre is sensitive to the location culture and plant species
The natural environment of Brazil is as diverse as its multi-ethnic human population. It is a megadiverse country, with extensive natural resources and ecological habitats, which makes it a place of global interest. The effect of this region's ecology directly exacerbates climate change.
The site for this project is located in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The region lies in the temperate zone with a moderate climate, favourable for growing diverse plants. The site is in the Sao Carlos district, at a distance of 180 km from Sao Paulo.
The site lies on the outskirts of the town, surrounded by low-density housing settlements. It is provided with a microclimate that is not too close to the shore and not too terrestrial, but right in between. The site is barren with no existing vegetation on the landscape.
Site area - 4068 sqm
Ground coverage - 50%
Height restrictions - 9m
Coordinates - 22°01'01.4"S 47°54'07.8"W
Temporary storage room
Cleaning and packaging room
Seed drying room
Laboratories for seed testing