Project
Core III: Foraged + Found

This proposal for a seaweed production facility and community activities center in Bar Harbor foregrounds cultural knowledge and ecological expertise of the indigenous Wabanaki population. As an expansion of the Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) program at the University of Maine, this new coastal space directly challenges traditional building technologies by proposing a construction approach of found and foraged materials. Like we dressing ourselves for the weather, this building is layered cyclically, seasonally with insulation that is foraged locally: seaweed. Found in the nearby ocean waters, it will be dried and stacked on the building exterior to provide winter warmth, and the coming of spring will mark the removal of the layers to be composted as farm fertilizer for the center’s partners. Unlike standard building maintenance performed after hours by outsourced labor, this center will depend on its stewards for its layering and un-layering to encourage a deeper environmental awareness.

Practicing cyclical dressing and undressing of building serves as a way to revive a kind of seasonal living rarely known today. This project is not about property ownership, instead it emphasizes mutual community growth and ecological custodianship.

As we take care of the land, it takes care of us.

 

Three methods of engagement with seaweed are explored in this project: farming, foraging, and recycling into fertilizer. To manage the year-round flow of seaweed, use and maintenance are shared between the primary community partners, envisioned by us to be WaYS, the Maine Farmland Trust, and the Maine Lobstermen Association. Organizations with seasonal industries have portions of the year without full engagement of their labor forces, so in this project, shared participation maintains active continuity despite the discontinuous agricultural timeline. In the winter, lobstermen can maximize their skills and resources off-season with kelp farming, and for farmers, seaweed that’s not food-grade can be collected for compost and fertilizer to benefit their crop yield. The continuous community management uses this labor to reinvest in itself for future and mutual growth. Seaweed functions as an effective insulator (as extensively proven in Denmark), so the layered wall assembly is comprised of various organic and eelgrass-based materials designed to be sustainably replaced each year before the winter.