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AmpLeaf introduces a new cycle of architectural eco-infrastructure that promotes the regeneration of local and native plant species within the Valldaura region. Wind vibration energy acts as a platform for a new dialog between ecological systems and human interaction. AmpLeaf is a synthesized smart surface which is integrated into the anatomy of the forest to experiment from within, using energy directly harvested from the ecosystem and its many agents rather than energy from existing power grids.
With the rise of a new generation of technologies capable of integration on a nano-level, we, as designers, are able to think about our environments on a different scale and recognize the emergent logics that can be tapped into for experimentation. This project aims to make social impacts on the ecosystem, encouraging birds and animals to gather around targeted flora and fauna native to (or marginalized from) the Valldaura region. The goal is to develop infrastructure that works in sync with existing systems, lessening the disparity between densities of biodiversity in the region and creating a richer and more competitive environment.
The Valldaura Self Sufficient Labs site occupies an optimal spot for the exploration of biosphere rejuvenation through passive systems. Located in the Collserola National Park, it is one of many sites that have experienced a notable decrease in diversity of plant and animal life due to nearby development. Many studies by CERFA and the Park Consortium have correlated the subdivision and transformation of land with the marginalization of specific species, their resulting relocation and, in some cases, disappearance from the area.
Through simple, integrated, and ecologically sensitive interventions, this project aims to catalyze the slow process of bio-regeneration. By targeting native species of flora and fauna we aim to take advantage of biological phenomena such as ornithochory (seed dispersal by birds), pollination, and biotic fertilization. A multi-functional passive energy system applies energy directly back into the environment from which it is derived and paves the way for symbiotic relationships: mutually beneficial ecological advancements for human and bio-life such as increased soil fertility, strengthened phosphorus, carbon and nitrogen cycles, and insect management.
AmpLeaf is designed to fit the needs of on-site customization and adaptability. All components are included in a minimally packaged format. Each ‘control’ sheet is embedded with the electronics required for energy harvesting, conversion, and light and sound emission. One additional sheet without electronics is provided and can be installed with the control sheet to enhance material reverberation and increased production.
Energy production with AmpLeaf is simple. As wind flows over and between the surfaces, vibration occurs along the rigid materials, activating the nano-generating piezos. Energy is transferred to the ‘control’ corner, where it is stored for use in powering lights and sounds. An integrated LDR light sensor in the FLORA microcontroller takes a light reading after each programmed sleep interval (typical interval is approx 30 min). Based on a value of 1 (daytime), the speaker is activated, playing the programmed bird sound. Based on a value of zero (night), the neopixel LEDs are activated until the next reading.
Variation in the voltage input to energy harvester is due to the variation in generation of current from the piezos, which fluctuates according to material reverberation in the surface. Energy produced from the piezos is trickled into the NI-MH battery over time. Output from the harvester to the battery is constant, albeit in small amounts. Output from the battery to the rest of the system via the FLORA occurs at the 30-minute programmed interval, and differs depending on the function as determined by the light reading.
Unlike conventional wind energy harvesters, this device is quiet and embedded into nature. Using wind vibration energy offers a solution to micro-production of energy which operates at a very low frequency and high level of integration due to the fact that it responds not only to windspeed, but also to its direct environment. The cycle of output from the device is directly linked to the amount of energy input in the surrounding by wind, movements of animals, and human-induced environmental changes.