Jacques Rougerie international competition winner.

Type : Oceanographic Observatory
Year : 2019
Teacher : Nicolas Gilsoul
Partner : Isaac Barbet
Location : Ishcia, Italia

In the depths of Neapolitan waters, fine bubbles are escaping from the sea bed of the Kingdom of Neptune. These are CO2 released by the volcanic activity of the Ischia island. For this exceptional situation, the island became a hot spot for oceanographic researches. Indeed, the CO2 saturation acidifies water drastically and alters submarine ecosystem conditions. Simultaneously, oceans tend to acidify themselves by capturing the ever-growing atmospheric CO2. Ischia appears as a window to the future: the pH of the surrounding water would be the global pH of oceans in three hundred years.

Karst project is an immersed oceanographic observatory specialized in the study of extreme acidity. Building temporalities are at the center of its design. The steel structure supports a limestone envelope. Within time, it will be altered, eroded by water acidity. This decomposition creates cavities, interstices, which become ecosystems. The design of the envelope allows the reconstitution of the main typologies of Mediterranean environments (cave, semi-enclosed cave, sandy bottom...).
Those representative ecosystems will be the focus of research in the laboratory. It represents a full-scale simulator of the oceans’ future conditions.

A hundred years have gone by and the limestone layer is entirely eroded, the observatory activities come to an end. The building starts its second life cycle: its return to nature.
Thanks to an electric current running through the structure, now revealed, electrolyze happens. This chemical process encourages limestone accretion onto the inert material, which is progressively covered by the young corral. The observatory of men thus becomes a reef. From their passage, men left behind a sustainable habitat. It is not a zero-footprint building but a positive one.