algaeculture feeding system by carlo ratti associati, ecoLogicStudio, + cesare griffa
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati






as part of the ‘future food district project’, developed by carlo ratti associati at expo milano 2015, the façades and canopy proposed for the pavilion utilize new systems of micro-algae, designed by cesare griffa and ecoLogicStudio. the two prototypes are full scale models and are on display at interni’s gala, ‘feeding new ideas for the city’ in the courtyard of università degli studi di milano from april 7-18th. the concept constitutes a revolution in building technology and  integrates both farming and urban agriculture.


‘the functioning principle of the prototypes is based on the exceptional properties of micro-algae organisms, which are ten times more efficient photosynthetic machines compared to large trees and grasses…the façade and canopy currently being developed for expo milano 2015 develop a natural man-made ecology and explore the use of algae as an integrated architectural cladding and urban agriculture system,’ explains carlo ratti, curator of the future food district.

micro-algae model
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati


image from above
image © designboom



installation during milan design week
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati


inside the installation
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati





micro-algae performs an important photosynthetic activity, absorbing considerable amounts of carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. it also can be transformed into a biomass, which can be processed for energy, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical uses. cesare griffa further states, ‘micro-algae open up an incredible potential for new renewable energy resources, and hope for a greener future. building and architectural surfaces are an incredible resource of space. urban façades and roofs represent billions of square metres that instead of being made of an inanimate material such as concrete, could become clever photosynthetic surfaces that respond to the current state of climate warming. micro-algae could add to the green urban system that exists already, intensifying carbon dioxide fixation activity and acting as cladding for buildings, increasing their passive performance.’

façade pattern
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati


algae cell detail
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati





it is now time to overcome the segregation between technology and nature typical of the mechanical age, to embrace a systemic understanding of architecture,’ concludes claudia pasquero of ecoLogicStudio. ‘in this prototype the boundaries between the material, spatial and technological dimensions have been carefully articulated to achieve efficiency, resilience and beauty.’

imagined expo pavilion
image courtesy of carlo ratti associati






the EXPO milano 2015 future food district, curated by carlo ratti (director – mit senseable city lab & partner – carlo ratti associati) in collaboration with favero & milan ingegneria, capatti staubach landschaftsarchitetekte, systematica, ecologicstudio, cesare griffa studio, enea and ceres srl

urban algae canopy prototype by ecologicstudio (marco poletto & claudia pasquero) & carlo ratti associati; prototyping team -taiyo europe gmbh, sullalbero srl; consulting team – nick puckett, paolo scoglio, catherine legrand, mario tredici; lighting by: iguzzini

urban algae façade prototype by cesare griffa and carlo ratti associati; prototyping team – matteo amela, federico borello, marco caprani; technical support by environment park spa, fotosintetica & microbiologica srl; lighting by iguzzini