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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Tianyue Sun, Yingting Chao

Tianyue and Yingting are committed to combining design and research tools to speak out in the field of environmental justice. Our work encompasses interaction, media, and landscape, trying to foster a co-regulatory environment where multiple stakeholders can contribute to safeguarding the rights of both the local inhabitants and the land they rely upon.

The river as a borderline between Portugal and Spain

The Alqueva project in Portugal seeks to enhance water reserves and expand irrigated crop areas, and the rapid expansion of this mono-agricultural system has changed the traditional landscape. Meanwhile, inadequate supervision and numerous infractions have occurred over the years, posing a threat to the environment and public health.

The project focuses on the issue of fertilizer pollution and its detrimental effects on groundwater quality caused by intensive monoculture farming practices. The extensive investigation uncovered a series of illicit farming activities in the vicinity of Beja city and surrounding villages. These activities included two distinct forms of unauthorized intensive farming within the protected sanitary zone of the village and the groundwater extraction points. The absence of well-defined protection zone definitions in municipal planning resulted in uncontrolled illegal farming practices.

To address this pressing concern, our research team developed an interactive platform that offers clear and accessible maps of protection zones, along with the relevant regulations. The platform also showcases historical changes in land use change and their consequences on water quality and pricing. By integrating data from intensive agriculture, our aim is to provide a holistic perspective encompassing environmental, economic, and ecological aspects on a single platform. Through the incorporation of mapping infractions and an uploading function, this platform will serve as a powerful tool to combat systemic violations while amplifying the collective voice. Our ultimate goal is to foster a co-regulatory environment where multiple stakeholders can contribute to safeguarding the rights of both the local inhabitants and the land they rely upon.

Systemetic violations
Systemetic violationsThe map shows unauthorized cultivation in the city of Beja and nearby villages, with illegal cultivation indicated in red and residential areas in yellow. The proximity of these two areas is such that groundwater contamination poses a potential risk to the safety of residents' daily water supply.
Quintos case study
Quintos case studyThe illegal intensive farming in Quintos village encroaches upon the protection zones for sanitary landscape and groundwater points. The map reveals the encircling of village structures by intensive agriculture.
Fountain in Quintos
illegal pumping
Intensive farming
Waste water discharge into the river
Quintos vase
Intensive cultivation
Land use changeTaking the example of the Beja region, by observing the changes in land use around groundwater extraction protection zones, we have noticed a correlation between the establishment of irrigation areas and the increase in unauthorized agricultural practices. This pattern is not limited to Beja alone but is also observed in over a dozen surrounding villages, highlighting a concerning issue.
Fertilizer applied in the field and nitrogen simlation
Simulated nitrate infiltration processBy calculating the nitrogen content of different kinds of land use and simulating the rate of nitrogen infiltration in groundwater, the figure shows the intense pollution of groundwater systems caused by intensive agriculture.
Irrigaion blocks and water price
Irrigaion blocks and water priceWater from the Alqueva dam is delivered to the various irrigation areas through the energy distribution system and pumping stations. There is a huge difference in the cost of irrigation water between different districts with uneven distribution of high and low-pressure zones.