Award-winning architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group has collaborated with lower-impact battery metals developer The Metals Company to reimagine a traditional metal production facility in a new contemporary and sustainable context. The firm designed a circular zero-solid-waste metallurgical plant that includes manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities, along with offices, visitor centers, and innovation facilities.
As the world shifts into a zero-carbon future, both companies wanted to bring innovative designs to the newly proposed facility while maintaining its core functions: supplying essential battery metals from polymetallic modules. BIG's design allows the integrated assets to lift the nodules off the seafloor, towards the production vessel. Following the allocation of the nodules, they are then transferred into hydrodynamic shuttle carriers, which then transfers them to a metallurgical plant, a structure designed to transform an urban port site into an innovative community hub.
Part of our design for future collectors included a buoyant, hydrodynamic shell with an extended lip to minimize seafloor compaction and reduce and redirect the dust plume kicked up during nodule collection. -- Daniel Sundlin, partner at BIG
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The Metal Company's first-generation production is a deep-water drillship vessel that enables pilot nodule collection, whereas BIG's next generation design allows an increase in production, reaching over 40 million tons of battery metals bi 2050. The X-bow designs on the shuttle carriers chosen by BIG's designers delivers hyper-efficient ships to further assist the company's carbon footprint plans. Upon reaching the port, the nodules are offloaded into a sustainable, regenerative portside processing plant, also designed by the architecture firm.
The world is characterized by a mindset that divides the world into front of house and back of house. The front is carefully designed in the form of beautiful facades and lush parks, leaving the back of the house as purely utilitarian and logistical leftovers in the form of parking lots and warehouses. With The Metals Company, we are designing a human made ecosystem channeling the flow of resources with the care and attention conventionally reserved for the front of house. A next-generation materials industry. -- Bjarke Ingels
The project would not be BIG's first venture in the world of energy facilities. Their Amager Bakke waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen is known for its iconic ski slope on top of a hybrid plant that produces district heating for 60,000 households annually from waste generated in Copenhagen, and electricity for 30,000 houses. The firm expects to implement similar facilities across three continents, with a few sites already under consideration.