Synergetic Topography of Purifiers (SToP)

Synergetic Topography of Purifiers (SToP)



Synergetic Topography of Purifiers


Arial view of Shanghai at night, showing the intricate waterway system and the varying patches of denstiy branching off of it. Image: NASA

Arial view of Shanghai at night, showing the intricate waterway system and the varying patches of denstiy branching off of it.
Image: NASA


PROJECT | AA Summer School Shanghai Directed by Tom Verebes

PLACE | Shanghai

DATE | 2013


Group1: Zhongjie Kou, Jiachen Xu, Jingzhi Wu, Xiamu He

Group2: Ginny CHAU, KE CHEN, LEE XUAN, Phoebe SUN, Fei MIN, Co Cha WAI 

MATERIALS | Digital Media

2013 AASH / AA Shanghai Summer School

19-27 July 2013

Hosted at The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Architecture Shanghai Study Centre, Shanghai

298 North Suzhou Road (corner Sichuan Road), Hongkou District, Shanghai


The Adaptive City


Offshore Urbanism


Tutor: Riyad JOUCKA
Synergetic Topography of Purifiers (SToP)


Subdivided by a series of meandering rivers, estuaries and lakes, Shanghai has an impressive geological morphology that has facilitated its rise to become one of the world’s most geographically connected and prominent cities. This rapid economic boost that the city has witnessed in the past few decades has resulted in an increase of discharged waste, and more demand for high quality water. It is ironic to note, that despite the abundance of water surfaces within its geography, Shanghai is suffering from water poverty, and is on the verge of a severe shortage of water adequate for human consumption. The consequence of Shanghai’s exponential growth is also reflected in its dense and rapid urbanization. Coupled with the city’s high rainfall rates, this has resulted in ‘Urban Runoff’, a phenomenon considered as one of the lead causes of flooding and water quality degradation.


SToP will speculate on two separate adaptations to the pollution and flooding problems of Shanghai’s waterway system. Operating within different methodologies and locations around the city, the two groups will begin by drawing site information using ‘Elk’ a plug-in for Grasshopper. A ‘Space Syntax’ algorithm will be used to evaluate pollution levels of the rivers and estuaries due to their spatial proximity to dense urban zones.

The first group will target the densest urban areas around the Suzhou Creek. This group will attempt to tackle the pollution problem at the source, by catalyzing a ‘self-cleansing’ process within the polluted areas of the river. Once the position of these purifying nodes is resolved, participants will begin to generate morphologies that could accommodate for a series of programs required to purify water, plant green surfaces and create public spaces. A catalogue of these morphologies will be generated, analyzed and revised, iterating towards an optimal solution using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis and vector field simulation of river currents.

The second group will attempt to reduce Urban Runoff by introducing a series of undulating surfaces that channel rainwater away from flood-prone areas along the Huangpu River, specifically areas with high urban density. This group will start by generating topographies using image mapping on Hoop Snake. Using a Visual Basic (VB) script that simulates water flow, participants will attempt to visualize the physics of rainwater movement. These simulations will enable the participants to quantify and re-asses the efficiency of these topologies to gather rainwater, and channel it away from high density urban zones.


SToP endeavors to challenge current management responses to water quality degradation and flooding, by using algorithmic processes that generate dynamic waterway behavior simulations. Spatial data gathered from Shanghai’s rivers and urban fabric initiates an input for computational systems that attempt to adapt to the city’s growth and urbanization.

Departing from the most effective water pollution and flood prevention solutions currently investigated in Shanghai, this unit will generate two integrated generative systems that aim to speculate on possible interventions that could aid in improving the performance of Shanghai’s waterway systems.





Huangpu + Yangtzee Intersection


-Water Pollution Discharge from Heavily Polluted

Water Body to the strongest water current movement

-High contrast between public space and secretive government controlled industrial space


-Taking advantage the dynamics of water to capture organic pollutants.

-Using mechanices of water flow: forces and tides to activate a system of capturing pollutants to be used as fertilizer for planting. 

-Extending the park to create planted surfaces on the water body on top of the pollution capturing devices





Suzhou Creek


-Array of interesting heritage buildings at close proximity to the Huangpu River.

-Prospects of Urban Run off due to the highly built up areas and heavy rain fall.


-Highlighting the most interesting heritage buildings by connecting them with an undulating pedestrian ribbon that provides shelter underneath

-Using rainfall water dynamics to channel water towards a rather slow current of the river, preventing that water to hit the urban surfaces and reducing pollution caused by urban runoff.

-Moving the entire structure towards the river, once enough water has been captured.