Justyna Lesny

Year 2 MArch

The Lichen Incubator 

A carbon capturing retrofit of the AGR reactor
Dungeness B, UK

Dungeness is an unforgiving landscape for many species, yet there is an abundance of lichen.

Lichen, a resilient organism formed by a symbiotic relationship between fungi and bacteria/ algae is one to be admired; both taking from one another exactly what they need to exist. Nutrients and protection in exchange for sugars and energy. These cryptogams are capable of absorbing approximately 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, helping to remediate the consequences of intense human activity.

The decommissioning of Dungeness B, an Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR) has left an unmoving and available environment, specifically its façade.

Through the extensive understanding of the properties of lichen this project retrofits Dungeness B to act as a container of a vast quantity of species of lichen. Environmental analysis, air and daylight simulations inform a façade system that collects and cultivates airborne spores and cryptogams. The growing logics of lichen are incorporated into the architectural ‘ bioskin’ tile that varies in surface area, shading, material and form according to their placement on the façade of the reactor.

The Lichen Incubator is an intervention that sees the opportunity for reuse and re-purpose of both the physical and material structures left by these characterful buildings, but also the social and economic void left in the community. Here in the Incubator, lichens’ unique properties can be researched, harvested and utilised to slowly remediate our environment as part of a balanced relationship that compliments the strategy of Degrowth.

This scheme aims to address the ignored condition of our ‘ natural assets’ in a world where our progress is only ever evaluated by economic value.

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