Over time, supporting infrastructure technology changes, and former sector of fundamental infrastructures have become technologically deficient and economically inefficient. Some social issues, including negative perception of coal and nuclear power plants, difficulties to meet strict environmental standards, and difficulties of maintaining old facilities are not allowing for the former sector of power plants to operate. These structures have become underused and forgotten by society. One of the largest power stations in New England, Brayton Point Power plant is not an exception among this social shift.
Participant Name: Heekyung Kim
Country: South Korea
Background information on selecting cooling tower: If this type of power plant cannot perform its functions but is used for different purposes, it is reused as park, art & culture center, and museum. However, there is not many example of cooling tower being reused. Because cooling tower serves a special purpose, the initial purpose of the structure could not be overridden and its inhuman scale.
What is cooling tower?. Cooling towers are the main characteristic of thermal power plants and it is designed for cooling the circulating water from the station. The iconic hyperboloid shape of cooling tower achieves minimum usage of material as well as strengthens the structure by tension under the curvature. And the opening between columns at the base induces natural flow from outside to inside. The most negative misconception about cooling towers is the ‘smoke’ being emitted from the chimney. The ‘smoke’ is nothing more than water vapor.
However, if the power plants do not operate anymore, over one hundred cooling towers that cannot serve their original purposes will be demolished under the Environmental Management Project.
Description of the designed space: The aim of this project is to recover the lost connection by introducing rich renewed eco-system that will take self-positioning ecological coexistence, and adequate productivity to this place. First of all, I focused on the natural location of the Brayton Point station. Cooling tower is always located nearby river or ocean. By implementing the concept of the time through tide, I wanted the public to feel the existence of nature and the flow of time in the one of the remnants of history.
My second intent of this industrial heritage is not only to actively use natural energy, wind, and height in a way of relishing but also to playfully approach to change the negative reputation of the structure itself. With these two factors, I thought of indoor skydiving for the public to enjoy the space actively. So, I designed the indoor skydiving hall in the center of the space and put the scenic vista on the top floor where people can view the beautiful landscape surrounding the area of the old power plant.
Conclusion: My journey for this thesis is about not only to explore possibilities of the most challenging typology, cooling towers, but also to find a new perspective to infrastructure that goes beyond technical dependency to embrace the issues of environmental sustainability, relation to place, context and culture.
I hope this proposal works as the inspiration for the new uses of the cooling towers in the future.