(Oracle, Arizona, USA)
The Biosphere 2 is a facility planned in Arizona as the second biosphere for the earth as the biosphere 1. In order to experiment the possibility of autonomous living in outer space, it was built in a remote desert region.
In 1991, eight experts broke contact with the outside world and began an experimental life. Even food and water were planned to be produced in a closed facility. But nature is more subtle than they had imagined. Nature did not progress as expected, and, due to a harsh life, the experiment was over after about two years.
For example, in a huge greenhouse, trees didn’t grow well because the wind didn’t blow. The force resisting the wind was the source of growth of a trunk and a root. Or, the winter with few fine weather deteriorated the growth of plants and caused a problem in food procurement, and, due to inert photosynthesis, the carbon dioxide concentration rose and oxygen injection from outside became necessary.
Now, the facility was taken over by Arizona State University and it is used as an environmental experiment facility. I couldn’t know the result in the tour, but at least it didn’t seem to assume outer space no longer.
In the pyramid-shaped glass greenhouse, several wind machines produce winds, plants are growing up. The greenhouse is divided into several parts, where a pond is installed, mists of fog is sprayed, various states of temperature and humidity creates various climates from dry climate to tropical climate. Almost it is a climate experience museum now.
The coexistence of different climates in one of the world's largest greenhouse would generate the effect of comparison to study. Meanwhile the flora is reproduced, the fauna is likely to be limited, so the climate including the environment chain is not realized. Originally, it had aimed at an experiment that made create artificial climate effective for human beings and a study on how food and air to maintain life were provided in such environment.
However, the electricity had been supplied from the outside during the experiment. As long as the matter of the self-supply of energy is not solved, it remains as armchair theory and it must be difficult to make a new step beyond that.
In order to go from the reception to the greenhouse, a visitor goes through the resident 's lodging village. I had imaged that the lodging village must be an industrialized residential style, similarly to the efficient research facility. However, in reality, the residence was Santa Fe style of the reinforced concrete finished with mud wall. As an architect, why would such lodging be built in this institution ? If they lived in such an isolated place, their residence would be better to be common and relieved style apart from the research facility ?
The private room in the facility for eight experts, who passed a harsh closed life, is also the air of a ordinary house. Their purpose is the research, so the private room which design is not special may be best for the stress that research generates.
At first glance, the research facility looks contrasting with the lodging village. But, both may be the same in the sense that both don’t expect anything in architecture design or space design. That is the difference from Arcosanti, an ecological city designed by Paolo Soleri.
The contrast between the nature of the desolate arid zone and the Biosphere 2 that appears suddenly makes a good picture. But the comprehensive evaluation is about Biosphere 0.02. It is just America to set itself up as the Earth 2.0 as the new standard. But let's be a bit more modest.
2 hours by car from downtown Phoenix.
50 minutes by car from downtown Tucson.
Jewel of the Desert（Biltmore Press、2009）
2018.01 Photos and text in English version and Japanese version
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