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SeaChange Portland

SeaChange Portland


Architecture, Course Work, Research, Structural Design

with Olivier Faber and Tristan Searight

SeaChange is our proposal for a low-carbon and affordably constructed dual-program seaweed processing plant and public market co-operative in Portland, Maine. It is a project that considers and acknowledges the fundamentally entangled relations between global climate change, building construction, and urban food culture and social vitality.

SeaChange responds to change on multiple scales, from planetary concerns of climate change and their local implications of warming waters and land, which threaten the sustainability of current agricultural and aqua-cultural practices core to Maine’s economy, to dramatic change happening within the city’s demographics, with a rapidly economically and ethnically diversifying population, that has yielded safeguards against the state’s otherwise aging and shrinking workforce, but also been met with insufficient opportunity and resources to keep pace with this change, with rising rates unemployment, homelessness and thus food insecurity.

In this response, SeaChange also acts as a conduit for change on similar scales, decarbonizing the material culture of public architecture with locally sourced and re-used materials assembled in low-tech, familiar, construction techniques, and facilitating the promotion of an environmentally sustainable food system, while developing new adjacencies in which seaweed — a low carbon, healthy crop that requires no land and no fresh water — is assimilated in the context of locally sourced and prepared foods, directly linking the carbon economy to ocean aquaculture and promoting a healthier urban food culture. And through the project’s architecture, SeaChange becomes an informal and inviting place where cultural difference and diversity is celebrated under one roof.

Portland is Maine’s largest city and arguably its cultural and economic center. Yet it is still a city of only 60,000 people, and small change that may seem to be negligible elsewhere, can have a significant cultural impact in a city of Portland’s scale.

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