HYDRAMAX Port Machines

Future Cities Lab’s HYDRAMAX Port Machines project proposes a radical rethinking of San Francisco’s urban waterfront post sea-level rise. The proposal renders the existing hard edges of the waterfront as new “soft systems” that would include aquatic parks, community gardens, wildlife refuges and aquaponic farms. A synthetic architecture is introduced that blurs the distinction between building, landscape, infrastructure and machine. Using thousands of sensors and motorized components, the massive urban scale robotic structure harvests rainwater and fog, while modulating air flow, solar exposure and intelligent building systems.


Interactive Model Description: A network of infrared proximity sensors has been integrated into the four sides of the physical model. These sensors record the distance of gallery visitors to its edges. Information from these sensors is used to actuate the white feather-like “fog harvesting robots” and control the brightness of embedded LEDS. This model is an example of what Future Cities Labs call “live models”. Live models use the interaction of people to explore and simulate the potential effects of environmental forces such as fog, wind and sunlight.

Model Materials and Electronics: Cast and thermoformed acrylic, custom printed circuit boards - layout in Fritzing and manufactured by PCB-Pool,Arduino "Mega" microcontrollers, infrared sensors, shape memory alloy motors (Courtesy of Miga Motor Company), interactive prototyping usingFirefly and Grasshopper

Film: This short documentary film focuses on the design of the HYDRAMAX Port Machines project exhibited as a part of the "Utopian Impulse" show at SFMOMA from 31 March - 29 July, 2012. Directed and produced by our friend Eddie Lee (Square2 Design). *We recommend the HD version here.

Location:  San Francisco, California.
Design: Jason Kelly Johnson & Nataly Gattegno
Project Manager: Ripon DeLeon
Production Team: Gavin Johns, Cameron Eng
Fabrication: MACHINIC Digital Fabrication & Consulting, San Francisco
Collaborative Sponsor: MIGA Motor Company (Dr. Mark Gummin)
Exhibited at SFMOMA from 31 March to 29 July, 2012. Read the 6/11/12 Press Release.

1. Sea Ice in Retreat (NYT Interactive Map 1/10/07)
2. If All the Ice Melted (National Geographic 11/13)
3. Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts (NOAA Website)
4. NOAA Coastal Services Center
5. USGS GIS Database (San Francisco Inundation specific data is here


Copyright © 2013, Future Cities Lab.  All rights reserved.