Pollution in China is one of the main contemporary issues that locals face in everyday life, concerning different elements in the environment. Alteration in the Shenzhen bay ecosystem had worsened the situation, depriving natural environment of its compensation mechanisms. For instance, meadows and mangroves forest are disappearing, to leave space for the city. Those environment have important filtering capacity and give a big contribution to pollutant reduction. Oyster cultivation is another import feature in bay ecology. In this vision, understanding local environment, with its strengths and weakness, has been the base for this proposal of self-sufficient system, in order to understand how can a new settlement deal with local environment.

Environmental strategies

Self sufficiency

The other systems present in the campus require low pollution in water and a good air quality in order to function. As pollution concerns air and water, this element has been the key for developing this solution. Water is present on earth in under different physical state: solid, liquid, as vapour and as a gas. It is practically everywhere: we are 60% made out of water,  it has shaped landscapes in million years, it is one of the most powerful solvent in nature and its molecular composition gives it unique features. Exploring self-sufficiency is interesting because, even if it is almost impossible to reach a 100% locally self-sufficient building, it brings you seeing the relation between local resources and design basis under a new perspective. In this case, water is the most abundant element on the site, that is surrounded by seawater.

Top view

Adaptive architecture

Creating architecture with water is interesting because it allows to create shapes and spaces without using a permanent structure, allowing changes through time according to current needs. The central fountain, that creates the dome geometry, is made out of scales, in order to orient the water jets and, according to pressure, modify the overall shape.

Variable geometry


The shield system

Shielding a space with water allows also to purify air, dragging down pollutants suspended in air and creating a physical barrier between external and internal atmosphere. For this reason, and in order to reduce the need of desalinated water, the system is conceived to include water purification and reuse.

water cycle

In this process, feature taken from nature are implemented, in order to limit creation of infrastructure. Seaweed farming provides biomass and mated with oyster cultivation reduces pollutant in sea water intake. Phytodepuration ponds are provided as grey water collectors, and a mill system capture kinetic energy from water that falls, in order to generate electricity.

water strategies


The final proposal is a system formed by 5 domes that include 5 different environments, that are creating a protected environment for activities.





IAAC, Self Sufficient Buildings.

Department of Molecular Architecture is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in Advanced Architecture, MAA01 in 2016 by:


  • Fulvio Brunetti


  • Enric Ruiz-Geli
  • Mireia Luzarraga Alvarez