Planning the power plant

The role of architecture in the integration of decentralized energy systems

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Abstract

The cities of the 20th and 21st century have gone through an era of unbridled expansion, seizing an immeasurable amount of land and resources from across the globe. To secure a resilient and sustainable urban environment, the city is forced to revisit its networks, systems and land-use. Especially with the growing trend of urbanization. One of these systems, which lies at the core of the daily operations of the city is the energy network. Large amounts of ener-gy are transported through power cables from large plants towards to their final destination, the end-user. However, with upcoming demand for renewable ways of energy production, and the increasing availability of ‘clean’ production methods, the city has the potential of becoming its own generator.
Taking this stance, the confrontation with existing policies, methods, trends, can be sought; creating oppor-tunity for local production and storage of heat/electricity within the cities limits. In so doing, seeking integration with public and private program, and therefore tightly grounding it within city districts and urban life. By nestling into local communities and providing new program, the local production has the objective to create a broad support for sustainable energy.
The techniques available to produce energy in a renewable and sustainable way are becoming increasingly more verifiably reliable alternatives. To be able to shorten the chains towards a more decentralized system, the city itself has to critically assess its scales and densities, and look for opportunities where renewable energy production can take place. Within the public eye, and with minimal loss of energy due to transportation, which is especially detrimental for district heating solutions. The framework proposed in this thesis therefore aims to combine the ap-propriate scale of the city with the proper scale of the production method to create symbiotic solutions.

The architect here, has a unique position in being able to work on the infrastructures of the future as infrastructures will overlap increasingly more with the urban tissue. Moving away from the traditional infrastructures which rely on exactitudes and centralized systems, the decentralized systems will aim to adopt a multifaceted approach, integra-ting infrastructural, social and operational systems. In so doing, local and regional opportunities for energy producti-on can be seized creating a tailored solution to the demands of the area, aiming to support its demand with renwa-ble energy. Architecture in this will take the position of innovator and integrater, embedding new approaches to infrastructures within the urban fabrics of the future.