In 2015, two schools located directly alongside the M1 in Tinsley, Sheffield, were closed due to fear of what daily exposure to high levels of pollution would have on the children’s health. While one of the school buildings was demolished, the other is currently under occupation by community enterprise the ‘Tinsley Tingas’ who aspire to turn the disused school building into a mix of workspaces and community facilities, working alongside the local council who are using the site to monitor and test technologies to tackle pollution.
Working in collaboration with the University of Sheffield’s Algal Biotechnology Department (ABS) and using their research in algae to inform a design centered around cleaning pollutants, the ‘Greening Tinsley’ proposal utilises the external space at the Tinsley Tingas site as a new community space focussed on food, integrating algal technology to create a closed loop, self-sustaining system. The proposal aims to bring together three strands: the ambitions of Tinsley Tingas in bringing new community facilities to Tinsley, the councils desire to find new and innovative ways to reduce pollutants in the area; and the wish of ABS to bring algae out of the lab and into the public realm.
Three scales of production were used as methods to bring algal technology to the public:
Greening Tinsley produced a number of educational booklets. These included a ‘Make Your Own Algae Bioreactor’, aimed at children, implemented to teach a small class from the Tinsley Meadows Primary School. Additionally, booklets on how to grow your own green walls and a garden handbook were circulated amongst the local community.
A community event day was held on site with a pavilion, educational material and free food cooked by a local refugee women’s cooking group. This was used to demonstrate the closed loop system and showcase the medium scale design, involving the community in the design process.
The medium scale proposes a new community allotment with a variety of shared/private local allotment spaces, algae covered walkways which clean the air and produce fertilizer for the allotments, as well as a number of places for the community to congregate and come together to share in the experience of growing, cooking and eating.
Looking to the future and the potential of algae as a community-led enterprise, the team created business plans for ‘Tinsley Tea’, ‘Tinsley Bio-Plastics’ and other algae-related products, all of which could be upscaled from the community garden on the Tinsley Tingas site. Algae doesn’t stop at Tinsley either, looking to imagine what the potential could be if algal technology took off manifested itself in the production of a photo album of images of the world ‘greened’ – take a look below to be inspired!
Find all the proposals and booklets through the ISSUU link below. Go out and green your own environment by building your own green wall and bioreactor! The journey starts here…