Intensive/Extensive (2014)


The primary intensive property engaged with by the Desertification Vigilance Station and Long Island Lumber Lab is that of air pressure—more specifically, the bulk movement of air that arises from air pressure gradients, or wind.

Rather than extracting the kinetic energy that is present in wind, which is a standalone topic of design and engineering entirely, both buildings seek to rechannel the flows of air that are to be found in situ, harnessing the ability of air movement to modulate other intensive properties.

Interaction with the wind in both buildings is controlled chiefly by the orientation and geometry of the four massive wind funnels, around which the program of the laboratories is manifested according to spatial, architectural, and exergy-matching principles.

The two buildings are conceptually related to one another through a geometric transformation—a three-dimensional hinged dissection—which rotates and translates the four megastructural wind funnels from the orientation of one building to that of the other.


Exploded AxonsCairoLong IslandGreenhouseVisitor AreaLaboratory OfficesServer RoomsSeed BankGenetics LaboratoryGreenhousesVisitor AreaLaboratory OfficesServer RoomsSeed BankGenetics LaboratoriesLumber DryingAcceleratingFunnelsDeceleratingFunnels


Sitting atop a rocky outcropping to the Southeast of Cairo, Cairo Station has its back to the urban sprawl of the Egyptian capital, and its watchful gaze toward the ocean of sand that is the Sahara Desert. Its mission is not only to carefully observe the encroaching dunes, but also to actively mount a defense against their approach. Cairo Station’s laboratories and greenhouse seek the hardy grasses and desert bush varieties that can stand guard against the desertification that renders arable farmland arid—whether they exist already, or are yet to be brought into creation. Only barely accessible by road and foot, Cairo Station is a wonder of autonomy. Two massive airwells use thermal mass and radiative cooling to extract condensation from the early morning air, watering both its plant and human inhabitants. Two more wind funnels accelerate the wind over the server farms and laboratory refrigeration units, effectively evacuating waste heat and reducing the Station’s need for active cooling.  Thin, deep lightwells run the length of the station, providing diffuse natural light to the lowest levels, even as the station’s long, thin plan reduces unwanted thermal gains from the brutal Saharan sun.


The Long Island Lumber Lab harnesses the ability of wind to modulate a variety of intensive properties in its mission to explore and push ever further the boundaries of what is possible with lumber, an eminently renewable construction material. Four wind funnels, oriented to direct wind during the warmer months over the stacks of lumber in their cores, provide the key research environments for studying the drying and preparation of lumber. Wind-cooled genetics laboratories and servers farms provide the biological and digital information for researchers to explore in their search for ever stronger, longer-lasting, and faster growing natural construction materials. Sun-heated tree nurseries on the upper areas of the embedded funnels provide a safe and controlled environment in which new species of genetiacally engineered trees can grow under the watchful eyes of resident scientists and curious visitors.



As is consistent with an arid climate, both Cairo and Tripoli (chosen for being major cities bordering or in the Sahara desert) exhibit a large intraday and interseasonal temperature range. This leads to a large intraday RH range, which is beneficial for the action of the air wells. Although both are climactically ideal locations, Cairo has the added advantages of more consistent winds and relative political stability.


New York and Boston, potential sites chosen as representative of Northeast US cities, have very similar cloud cover levels (moderate, suitable for greenhouse operation) and relative humidity (moderate, suitable for wood-drying operation) conditions. However, Boston’s year-round prevailing wind from the North-Northwest is not as prefereable as New York’s differential warm- and cold-season wind patterns.