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Guys, opinion, please… white or black???


The precast mould for the component serial mass production:




3mm lasercut MDF











Finally its happening…


Serious mass production





400x400x100m high density foam model with 1.5mm drill bit.

Media Studies’ Mudbox software works very good in sculpting branching patterns in high density foam models. Im polishing this guy ready to be machined. This is where the voronoi cell is sliced from, where the first site test of the catalogue will start to populate Abbots Hall Farm.


Chosen voronoi cell for Model 4/5 (high density foam or stacked lasercut 2mm cardboard or acrylic), the test voronoi cell where the component proliferates (Model 5/5 STL model)


After 16 weeks without a proper model (hence the new category Eco-Machines Models), things are starting to change…

2 400x500x50m high density foam models cut with 1,5mm drill bit.





By inputting a branching pattern in the voronoi cell and avoiding overlapping, I had to jump into the 3rd dimension! The branching now widens as it has to distribute itself within the confinement of the voronoi cell, which in turns responds to the potential tracing of an erosion network that the netlogo is able to pick up. From the Paradigm Shift moment of the netlogo simulation as my ecomachine, that “colonises” the gradient (e.g. landscape), defining points of branching in the eroding trail, then with the voronoi logic tesselating these erosion nodes into defined regions and then, finally, distributing my branching networks in relation to the voronoi cells and specifying the density, direction and volumetrics by their engagement with the cell and other cells, finally, the catalogue becomes somwhat performative and responsive to an environment.


For this year, two words: points and layers!








But what is this?? These are branching that respond to sedimen trapping. The delaunay triangulation helps me get the areas of sediment trapping when the branching system starts to get complex. The widerning of the branching to avoid branches to cross each other reveals more trapping area of sediment. The overlapping branches however show a much intense surface area in cavities within the branching network. These two aspects (optimum surface area and redundant area) are things worthy of exploring. More on it on tomorrows tutorial…


And the voronoi is finally out…. with 4341 points that are computed and 3956 lines from where the intersection points where drawn:





Some sketch renders on how Tidal Restrain can start to populate the landscape, trapping sediment and setting up the marshland condition.




There is something about the branching as it gets narrower in the base and the components start to build up that is reminiscent of density, of stacking, of porosity that wasnt evident in the catalogue and only when its material it becomes evident in the so many other possibile arrangements the components can adopt. I am being metaphorical, not until I test these guys.

NEXT STEP: build a tank and start test these guys with real sediment. Model has to be redone with a sturdier material that can be tested with water flowing ove and over agai (akin to the youtube video of the shoreline)
NEXT STEP: setup a netlogo 3d simulation to test all my variations of these arrays under the sediment 2d model with added criteria such as build up of sediment in areas and not just a clean undifferentiated blue field.


Farm meets saltmarsh in Abbots Hall Farm

Now that I am much more confident in explaining what saltmarsh formation and managed realignment is I can start seriously start to postulate that Tidal Restrain is a potential ecoMachine. I say potential because only when you test the prototypes, like totora, can you start raising the project to the status of ecoMachine.

The fact that it deals with a specific process (novelty #1: my process is saltmarsh formation) and with a material system that engages this process (novelty #2: spartina anglica and seagrasses root systems: branching logics) paves the way for a full-fledged ecoMachine. With these two foundation concepts, the clearly defined aim is to create the saltmarsh. How a saltmarsh is formed: here a brief summary.

Early SaltMarsh:

Encourage sedimentation at the intertidal zone (where the saltmarsh sediment has to build up), chanelling salty water and restricting it in some areas (this way you control the eventual colonisation of reed species types, both halophylic and halophobic (salt loving, salt hating), that would in turn collect more sediment) and slowing down tide flow in order to maintain a constant water flow that wont disrupt the build up of sediment at the intertidal range.

Maturing saltmarsh:

The eventual build up of the sediment in the intertidal range leads to the mudflat bed where the saltmarsh grows. The channel creeks then carve out as they make their way into less saline water, creating the dendritic patterns. Microtidal conditions, where tide is too slow, leads to even more proliferation of dendritic systems as water flow is distributed within the network of creeks and absorbed. The saltmarsh, now mature and distinct at even high tide, rising above sea level, forms a microcliff. These microcliffs are saltmarshes that are consolidated and receed inland. At lower levels of the intertidal range, more sediment builds up for further saltmarsh colonisation.

The material system would then have to:

– catch sediment

– control the tide flow to keep it at constant speeds for sediment build up.

– direct the colonisation of reed species according to salinity in water and depth of water as certain types are less aquatic than others, when higher tides hit the forming marsh.

This, at the basic level of fulfilling the role of marsh formation.

At the architectural level, something is missing.

This is where the Abbots Hall Farm case study gains crucial importance (novelty #3: Miss Karen Thomas from the Environment Agency is willing to offer a site visit around mid February to the Farm to have a look at the Managed Realignment scheme there.). The managed realigment scheme bringing forth again a saltmarsh ecosystem is next to a farm. A series of issues arise whith this. Will the salinity-non salinity of the flow of water will percolate in the crops and irrigation system of the farm? Could the marsh, or my ecoMachine, or both, act as filter of salt for the injection of tide water into the farm irrigiation system? Will the establishment of a saltmarsh affect the presence of pests and bugs or perhaps birds that feed on these? Can the nutrients of the collection of sediment from sea debris, reed decay, rhizome nitrogen fixators located in seagrass, be used as farmland fertiliser or as soil to feed into the Farm?

Basically, are the advantages of adding on a saltmarsh next to a farm only those of tidal surge control or are there some benefits to it that would engage both landscape conditions? Is my ecoMachine then the negotiator? At first the instigator, the triggerer of the saltmarsh to colonise itself, but, then, could my ecoMachine perform in ways that the Farm and the Saltmarsh coexist symbiotically? What other benefits can there arise from addin-on a saltmarsh to other typologies? These questions are the ones that I will discuss with Miss Thomas. Certainly, when Tidal Restrain performs at those levels of not only creating a condition by engaging the environment, but actually responding to itself and other neighbouring environments and conditions then the cybernetic dialogue begins.

The beauty of this should be kept however within the realm of the unpredictability of performance of our systems and on the emergent behaviours that will occur. From my netlogo simulations this is certainly the case, and from a position where I am engaging landscape and environmental processes, then I cant be naive to portend that I can control and go “you do this, you do that”, but more as general catalyst for a condition that has ecoMachinic potential to begin.




For sediment to deposit a system of catchment is needed. Spartina Anglica is a type of cordgrass found in slatmarshes and estuaries that is an sediment trapper thanks to its intricate root system and aggressive propagating capacity. My Y-component can simulate that density of the root structure of Spartina in order to get the sediment trapped in the needed areas.

The current issue with Spartina is that it blocks natural formation of salt marsh as it heavily colonises the intertidal zone and not allowing halophytic (salt loving) and other types of reeds to colonise progressively. This example then informs me on a maximum density cap that I should aim for my sedimentation entrapments. Too much sediment too quickly and you create a reed terrace.


Now that I am understanding more M.R. and S.M. formation (I even goes as far as coining my own abbreviations) I can sketch ideas with more confidence and start feeding in testing criterias for my material system.

Serious notes:


One of the objectives: promote intertidal sediment deposition that would serve as backbone for saltmarsh colonization. The ecoMachine should also modulate accretion speeds so receeding sediment from tidal flows is maintained in the intertidal area. Slow accretion allows for constant buildup of sediment in the intertidal zone, where saltmarshes build up.


The intertidal sediment deposition is distributed by the slope of the target area.



Abbots Hall Farm (Managed Realignment highlighted)


Areas of Salt Marsh presence.


A good article summarising the case study of Abbots Hall Farm in relation to flooding crisis in the UK.

The bible of coastal geomorphology and saltmarsh formation. This is my obligatory reading for this weekend and I can proudly say: salt marsh formation is one tough subject to learn! Incredibly interesting I might say, though…


Further abstraction of the netlogo now referencing the behavior in relation to the pixels that the NetLogo actually operate with. Looks sleeker.


I had to visualize how the components behave with each other so I did this sketch model of the tree structure. Definteley, there are more configurations that the component can adopt that exceed the catalogue rules when it becomes a 3d system.



Courtesy of Valerie Bennett



And the inspiration for this important decision:


Even though this is were I spent New Years (MANCORA – PERU), I did come across some ideas for TS3. I needed a break from my laptop so, I spent 6 days laptop-free and my sketchbook.


The coral some parts of Mancora gave me an inspiration for what the material for my Tide Restrain machine could be. The porosity the coral has adds even more possibilities for distribution of water and sediment besides what the arrangement of the Y-components actually produce. This would give a control to each component to redirect the flow of water in whatever direction according to its porosity.



And some diagram attempts to capture the porosity of the coral.


I noticed that I failed to actually do some proper sketches during the past term… and also during 2nd year: it was mostly writing and sketchy hieroglyphics… as a New Years resolution (besides oathing once again to accomplish all the past ones from 5 years ago THIS TIME FOR SURE) I’ll sketch much more from this day on.

Some sneak previews of what I might see this project developing, eventually… its not cheating, its not avoiding the systemic logic of bottom up design, buuuut… just to scribble some ideas on paper. Nothing more, nothing less.

Some ideas of field population of my Y-component


A collection of ideas of how the Y-component eventually forms a series of trenches and barriers that distribute sediment and tide to create a marsh condition. How the field becomes colonised by the marsh and of how, within the mesh of the arrayed components, a porosity could be included that will further control, direct, filter, incoming tide and sediment at a 1:1 level.


Flirtin with the idea of a section, top one is when the Y-component has been colonised or in the process of and with a concrete coat that gives the extra porosity to the mesh. Bottom is the distribution of the Y-component.


Bringin together the field with a tide condition, where the field is an obstacle that redirects the flow.


A more ink friendly version of the managed realignment maps with the portfolio template


The next gradients explore how the gradient pixelation affects the behaviour of the agents travelling across as it erodes across, but also testing 4 generation of agents and how they respond to the path paved by the previous generation. Not so much a test on what are the trajectories, but how overlapping trajectories lead way to emergent thicker trajectories, akin to real river behaviour.

I wanted to upload the 10 video stepped gradient variations, but when I make the videos in Premier with 25 fps the files end up too big, so I just made a crap res version of one, which is the base gradient to see how the erosion responds. The catalogue underneath shows the results of the erosion tests when 4 generation of agents are released.

Catalogue of Stepped Gradient erosions with NetLogo 2D