Hong Kong's oyster farming industry has lasted as a cultural heritage that shows the lifestyle of the people in the past. With its significance, the oyster industry was large in the 1960s and 1970s with more than 700 growers. However, according to an article from SCMP published in 2016, the number of farms and farmers has been declined to around 100 growers from 700 during the past few decades, as the significance of oyster farming is neglected and labor is so hard.
I think the awareness of how significant the oyster farming is as a cultural heritage needs to be raised by the young generations who have never observed it during their lifetime. Also, the work environment needs to be improved to ease the amount of labor for harvesting oysters. The decrease of workload and efficient farming with new technology may attract people to join the oyster industry again like in the past.
First of all, the oyster farms depend their income on farming only. the farm, these days, opens their farm to the public as an opportunity to experience a new lifestyle in nature.
Moreover, the current oyster harvesting method was invented a long time ago and is mostly conducted by human force manually. The new technologies which automatically manage the harvesting can be introduced to the farm.
The oysters in Hong Kong may disappear sooner than we think due to its rapidly aging industry. For example, in the Fishing village of Lau Fau Shan, there are only 60 farmer families left. Since some of them are retiring soon, and some are changing their professions, the industry will be reduced much quicker than predicted. Therefore, the industry now needs help to not disappear.
- What if oyster farms were not only for oysters but inviting a lot of other species? Could we create floating ecosystems on the man-made structure?
- Could the natural trophic chain be continued even on the man-made structure?
- Could we create an entirely new experience around oysters at sea?
- Ecology Farm is investigating how to bring more attention to oysters using other animal species. Since oyster alone is not attractive and popular enough to receive people's attention, Ecology Farm invites other animal species that may attract people. When people come to look at other species, they can observe oysters at the same time.
- Ecology Farm makes this industry a more multi-purpose place. As the new platform can be served as raft leisure and observatory, the oyster farm can have diverse activities that can attract people; maintaining its original function, oyster farming.
- Finally, Ecology Farm is investigating how to make the farm automated with a new technology called the Airberth system.
- What is it? What does it do?
The structure that I'm constructing is a leisure platform that can accommodate oyster farms and small wildlife ecology. Originally, it contains oyster farm as a fundamental purpose; however, It also functions as a floating platform that people can use as a raft for their activity and can observe diverse wild animals around and on it.
- What are the questions this work is asking? What new knowledge are you creating?
The new proposal brings a question like the following - If a man-made structure function as a natural ecology (in a small scale)?
I raised this question because the the new design is to create a micro-ecology with algae on the bottom, oyster and fish above them, and bird and human on top. I suggests that if this trophic chain of the nature can be also created by artificial structure created by human.
The knowledge I'm pursuing from this exercise is to discover a method to create micro-ecology that can work both for wild-life and human.
- How are you going to test your assumptions?
I have built a miniature model of the floating platform with wood board and porous foam pad. The mechanism of bird house and oyster house was represented in the grid form in the model in the beginning. However, in the process of making a prototype, the grid was simplified like the final design.
- How to maintain your device?
The platform in theory is easy to maintain as it can be automatically stayed or moved around with the users like people fishing and photographing. As the bird nest on the roof is a wooden panel, when it needs to be replaced, it can be easily taken out and replaced with a new. OVerall, the structure is made of all wood, therefore, it is easy to replace the outdated parts.
5. What do you think are the strongest and the weakest points in your project now?
Strength: The Ecology platform can have diversity in wildlife species. People who visit the platform can observe birds, fish, oyster, and other marine species at the same time.
Weakness: According to the comment from a reviewer on the final presentation, the bird house on the roof might be not feasible as birds are very sensitive in their habitat.
- What construction technique are you using?
To reduce the material budget using timber columns and bamboo scaffolding structure
- Who uses it? Can you draw a particular user? Can you describe to me that user, how they look, your assumption on their backgrounds, abilities, preferences, and what drives them?
The proposed design has three specific targets: fishermen, photographers, and farm visitors.
- Fishermen can do fishing on the platform to catch the fish that gathered around the oyster and algae under the platform.
- photographers can come over to take photos of both migrating birds and local birds living on the roof of the platform
- As it has its original purpose, oyster farm, the platform can be used as a experience place for the farm visitors.
- What are the benefits users can get from the device?
- What problems does your design cause?
- How do you operate and maintain this installation?
- How do people get on board?
- How much weight can you carry?
- How to maximum efficiency and convenience for the user
- Are there simpler ways to achieve the objective?
- Are there other possible use for clean seawater filtered by oysters?
- How long will it be in the water?
Health & Safety
- Is it stable? Safe? ship survivability？
- Is the device safe and environmental friendly to the ocean
Materials, process, scale
- What is the scale and materials? Where and how is it built? Where do the materials come from? Where do the materials go after it’s used/broken?
- What materials would you use? Where do you source it? Once used, where does it go?
- is it recyclable？
- How long does the project take to be complete: build, bring on site and board?
- How to mass produce the device?
- Where does the installation get its energy from?
- Is it sustainable and how?
- Is your installation amicable to all marine lives?
- How does it work? Especially the biology of it?
- Which other species will naturally be attracted to the oyster reef there, such as crabs, fish, mussels, algae and other species?
- Where do you think this installation would be? Choose a very specific site in Hong Kong waters. Why there? Tell me the characteristics of the place: water depth, tide, current, wave, closest port, fauna and flora, people and industries nearby.
- Will it be influenced by the weather condition?
- Does your device perform differently when in different geographic environments(for instance, near shore, in shallow water, and in distant seawater)?
- Is it cost-effective?
- Is it possible to be mass-produced?
- What is the product / outcome of this installation? Who benefits from it? What is the business model of this?