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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Chenxin Xu, Hang Cui, Yifei Wang, Yixuan Liu

Members of the group include Chenxin Xu, Hang Cui, Yifei Wang, Yixuan Liu. They are all currently undertaking research and studies in Environmental Architecture at the Royal College of Art and plan to graduate in 2023.

Chenxin Xu's undergraduate degree is landscape architecture, and during his studies at the RCA the connection between human and nature is the aspect that he has been concerned about throughout the research project. In the 5, 0, 1000 rivers Studio, he explored accumulation of heavy metals in the water and effects on cells, and cellular art using a combination of mixed media method, and the combination of film and models.

Hang Cui is currently pursuing a postgraduate course in Environmental Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London. Her interest is in telling and expressing environmental narrative content through a variety of mixed media. Her media incorporates emerging technologies with a focus on digital simulation. She is exploring the direction of digital microbial landscapes, hoping to reveal hidden ecological information, overlaying the invisible, dynamic stories of the environment on existing physical spaces.

Yifei Wang's approach to design covers a wide range of directions from interior design to landscape architecture. She completed her undergraduate and master's degrees in interior design from 2018-2021 with an MA graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2023. She always believes that design is relevant regardless of professional direction. Within her work, she strives to intuitively transform abstracted concepts through different mediums by visualising the ecological damage caused by human egoism in conflicting choice environments in the form of environmental test data.

Yixuan Liu is currently studying in Environmental Architecture at the Royal College of Art. Her role includes initial research, communication, design and modelling. At postgraduate stage will resonate with the design language of environmental architecture from the context of interior design into the language of deconstruction into the social dimension for stage analysis. With environmental architecture as an important part of the drive for social change, she attempts to establish communication with the social environment and attempts to resolve environmental conflicts through design expression.

Effects of heavy metals in water on plant cells

Our project explores the topic of environmental rights and environmental colonialism, focusing on the co-existence of heavy metals and humans and non-humans in groundwater. 

We focus on the sources and diffusion of heavy metals in groundwater contamination. This has been an ongoing problem in the area surrounding the Zira Liquor Factory, where incidents at the factory have led to local outbreaks of conflict around water pollution. 

Our analysis and speculation works from river flow to pollution discharge and infiltration in groundwater resources; and focusing on cellular uptake to expose the threats and violence that heavy metal components of water pollution pose to the surrounding ecology and human health. We focus on water quality classification using river flow direction and study heavy metal transport processes from river to groundwater. 

Our study is centered on the Zira Liquor Factory and the surrounding area within 3km; within this area, we are responding to and reflecting on the ecological impacts of the continued spread and future trends of heavy metals. Exploring environmental architecture aesthetics, we attempt to show the invisible flows and permeabilities of microscopic changes in heavy metals, water bodies and plant cells. In pursuit of a balanced ecology, our simulation studies work with concepts of coexistence. Our design intervention introduces mycelium into local water use habits and heavy metal flows; working within the subsurface ecology and regeneration of healthy microbial landscapes.

The Visible Flow

The accumulation of heavy metals in riversAnalysis of the distribution of factories along the Sutlej River and the accumulation of heavy metal contamination in the occurring water.
Arsenic in groundwater
The Arsenic in groundwaterZira Factory is in the centre, with contaminated villages within 3 kilometres shown. According to the principle that the cytoplasmic flow in the mycelium can transmit signaling molecules, digital simulation speculates about the ideal coexistence state of fungi after repairing heavy metals in the future.
Factory heavy metal emission simulationSimulation of the dispersion of heavy metals in water using the plant as a standard
The emission of heavy metals in the factory
The emission of heavy metals in the factory
Heavy metal plume flow diagram of the Zira liquor factory discharge from unsaturated zone to saturated zone in 0-100 days time scale