I love the continued trend of adding ‘green’ into Architecture – green walls, green roofs, green houses – but so far we have been pretty superficial with it. What if those plants could actually feed us instead of just looking pretty? (okay I know I know they do improve air quality and mood but still) Urban agriculture is on the rise – from home-grown rooftop gardens to large scale hydroponic growing operations – and it is a really great concept. As many people may know there is growing concern over our food supply as earth’s population continues to grow, and currently one in nine people are malnourished in the world. Creating viable growing conditions within the City seems simple enough, and swaths of roof tops seem ready for reaping the benefits of food production, however, there are a lot of considerations that have to be taken into account. There are many concerns that Architecture has to contend with; the weight of soils and plants, humidity, maintenance, and of course the key ingredient for plants but the nemesis to buildings – water.
The following projects, however, have demonstrated that urban agriculture is possible and can be incorporated and even celebrated architecturally.
Pasona Urban Farm in Tokoyo | Kono Designs
I think this is one of the coolest examples of Urban Farming currently built – it’s an office building! The building expresses green on both the inside and on the outside with a green façade and balconies planted with fruit-bearing trees. On the inside 20% of the building’s area is dedicated to farming over 200 species of food-related plants!
The different farming types and areas not only provide a harvest for the building’s cafeteria, but also provide educational opportunities for employees and visitors alike. Plants are even incorporated into individual rooms – for example there are board rooms with fruit trees in the ceiling! The beauty is that it is a literal and visual reminder of farm-to-table and food production which is often missing from our day-to-day lives.
Vertical Farm in Romainville, France | Ilimelgo
This project excites me as it is an example of dedicated urban agriculture but also beautiful architecture. The Vertical Farm is a 2000 square meter facility that will be completed in 2018 that brings together farming, education, and research in one place. It provides a bridge between traditional small plot gardening and technological innovation – and gives it back to the people. The space includes a variety of fixed and hanging containers, shade and full light plots, a henhouse, orchard, and mushroom farm.
I adore the streamlined and modern look that incorporates the collection of rainwater and operable windows, with an ode to the house and farm with the peaked roof and open courtyard design. The courtyard also provides for better penetration of light and helps to promote natural ventilation.
Home Farm in Singapore| Spark
Home Farm is a model or concept for future (hopefully) retirement living in Southeast Asia. It combines retirement communities of multi-family living, health services, and urban farming. With the large population and soon-to-be large population of seniors the creation large high-density communities that can, in a way, be self-sustaining is desirable. There would be a mix of aquaponics systems and rooftop soil planting, as well as localized planting on balconies.
The concept is that the urban farming would provide jobs for seniors and could be used as a payment offset for living costs. Not only is the farm functional, but it provides a pleasing, calming, and enjoyable environment for the senior residents and keeps them engaged and active!
Though urban agriculture is not necessarily an answer to world hunger it is a step in the right direction and helps to educate populations on the hard work and effort that goes into raising food and hopefully makes them more aware of how to use food and reduce waste. If buildings built in the near future start to incorporate models such as the Pasona offices, or if City projects for individual urban farms can be funded and built it would certainly help put less pressure on agriculture lands. I think it would also provide a great benefit to the well-being of building users – I certainly would be interested in assisting with maintenance in order to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables all the time!
For more information click on the images – they are linked to the articles that they came from!