It almost looks too futuristic to be true, but the prototype was already developed. London-based ecoLogicStudio has taken this innovative concept and made it a reality at the Milan 2015 Expo. Using only the Sun's energy, the Algae Folly is the perfect intersection of technology, design... and food.
“Microalgae, in this instance Spirulina, are exceptional photosynthetic machines,” writes ecoLogicStudio. “They contain nutrients that are fundamental to the human body, such as minerals and vegetable proteins; microalgae also oxygenate the air and can absorb CO2 from the urban atmosphere ten times more effectively than large trees. The Urban Algae Folly is an interactive pavilion integrating living micro-algal cultures, a built example of architecture's bio-digital future."
Spirulina is not just a dietary supplement, but it's actually a genus of free-floating filamentous cyanobacteria; you can think of them as microalgae. Spirulina loves the Sun, so on sunnier days there's even more spirulina, which can be used to generate fuel and even healthy food sustainably.
It's not the first time such an urban project was proposed. The same studio developed a Urban Canopy that produces a huge quantity of oxygen, while in 2014, a different design company came up with an Algae Farm that gobbles up highway pollution. These creative algae designs for urban spaces seem to be picking up steam, and I have to say, they seem like a very pleasant escape, with some significant benefits. But is it feasible to implement them widely? I haven't found any data on the costs of developing such a system, but it seems safe to say they come with a pretty big price tag. Either way, you can enjoy this prototype at the Milan Expo.