Refuge-ground : Towards habitable offshore salt platforms



« Hurricane Mora hits […] Bangladesh, with winds of up to 84 mph damaging thousands of homes and forcing the evacuation of 450, 000 people […] The meteorological department warned people against a tide that could raise sea levels by up to 1.7 meters in several coastal districts in Bangladesh »

Article published on tuesday 30 May 2017 by the Télégramme


Through a speculative and anticipatory story, this metaphorical and critical project is about the elaboration of a radical architecture, which aims to [re]connect us to the surrounding environment, or at least try to interfere with our daily practices.

The emergence of Greenwashing, a manifestation of a major environmental crisis, forces us to push our relationship to nature even further, beyond the simple revegetation of our cities; to reinvent ourselves in a « new engineered body, a hybrid of nature and architecture ». In other words, to link the ecosystem and the architecture in an endogenous evolution.

In a country flooded with salt water, Bangladeshis build a new ground by extracting salt from seawater, pervasive in most parts of the country. Able to reconfigure seawater desalination techniques (already used today in the middle east), they transform the brine (obtained through electrodialysis) into a construction material. The sodium chloride present in the water passes from a disordered liquid state to an ordered rigid material. Thereby, salt, once responsible for the biotic transformation of Bangladesh and the disappearance of good soil, is being used in the development of an artificial, hybrid nature of architectural elements and rocks salt. A new refuge ground takes shape above seawater, by agglomeration of crystalline salt.


Who influences you graphically?

I am inspired by scientific and technologies iconography but particulary by the work of Katsushika Hokusai.

What prompted the project?

When I was doing some research about sea level rise, I have been amazed both by the

« bipolarity » of water in the Indo-Gangetic plain and by the resilience of Bangladeshi people. So, at this point, I knew, I had to work on this surreal and burning topic.

Are you interested in exploring the relationship between the ecosystem and nature further?

Yes, my current interests lie in concept for building architecture and space, particularly as it pertains to nature and climate change. I endeavor to explore the link between human societies and the transformation of earth through tools and architecture.

Could you expand on the speculative lab image? and crystal specimens?

The main aspect of my diploma is the use of growth material. So I tried to show through my visuals the notion of evolution, of progression. So with this serie of computer generated images, I show several stapes of the crystallogenesis and therefore the hybridization between architecture and crystal vegetation.

What defined the selection of images through which you reveal your narrative?

I tried, through very distinct kind of images, to explain my narrative. First, with more conceptual pictures, I wanted to share my main questions I had in mind about the Western dualism that opposes nature and society. Then in a very didactic way, I explain how Bangladeshi people in a near future, could build a new kind of lacustre urbanism with salt. Finally, with a more typical, « perspective » kind of images, I wanted to give a preview of life in these habitable offshore salt platforms raised above sea level.

How do these sit in relation to each other and to what extent did one lead to the exploration of another?

Each graphic treatment (concept, didactic and view) is related in a way to a certain scale or stape in the making of this architecture project. I considerer that architecture is the expression of a society so I start with philosophical principles which architecture relies on, here an endogenous evolution between architecture elements and cristalline growth ; then I describe this autonomous mecanism in an anatomic kind of views, and finally I show what could be the daily life in the habitation like an « anthropologist » will do.

What defined the drawing as primary medium for this story’?

I wanted peoples, viewers to be seduced by the fictional story, so I used visual effects to blur the boundary between what is real and what is pure fantasy ; between what is, in term of construction possible and what is may be not. The main objective was to develop a future as realistic as possible, to really focus the debate on this alternative society instead of feasibility.

Did you ever think of exploring the animation or other narrative based formats?

Actually, I already did so. This entire project was made as a pseudo-documentary. This 12 minute short-film, made for my graduation presentation, is about an alternative Bangladesh story. From this ecological crisis era to a new form of lacustrine society, allowing life to emancipate in this vast salt water ecosystem.