According to the Vertical Farm Project, by the year 2050 the earth’s human population will have increased by around 3 billion, and 80% will reside in urban centers. The project estimates 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than the area of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today.
The man behind this project, Dr. Dickson Despommier, believes the answer is simple – farm vertically. Former Columbia professor Dr. Despommier (microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences), widely considered the “father” of Vertical Farming, has travelled the world advising governments and advocating for solutions to environmental problems. I spoke to him from his home in New Jersey. The interview was scheduled to run for around 30 minutes, however we spoke for over an hour and a half. The text below is an edited version of this conversation. His enthusiasm and drive is infectious, and in an already overcrowded, overheating world, what he had to say seems to make a lot of sense.
The city of Paris is recognized worldwide for its beauty, architecture, and urban planning. Unfortunately the lack of green areas has been a constant problem for decades. The Flying Planame (paname refers to Paris in French slang) is an utopist project that proposes multiple layers of green planes throughout the city. The main concept is to maximize the outdoors areas while making use of the structure for commerce and housing. Similar to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the rice growing terraces of Yunnan, China, this project proposes equilibrium between the natural and built environments.
Imagine a skyscraper which is not an apartment block or an office building. Instead it is a vertical park that rises into the sky having its head in the clouds. It’s a place for dreaming, playing and breathing. A peaceful place where in the middle of the hectic city on the 22nd floor there is room for birds chirping, rustling of leaves, lying on the grass and hearing your heart beat.
The vertical park is not a solitary skyscraper. It is a new urban typology which would emerge in several places from the midst of monotonous blocks of the city. Any city of the world lacking green space, but with an abundance of asphalt streets and concrete blocks would be an ideal location for vertical parks. Where there is no place at all at ground level they would anchor on top of buildings and simply rise into the sky.
Plantagon celebrates the ground breaking of their first urban greenhouse in Linkoping, Sweeden. The “Plantscraper” will grow and supply fresh vegetables while creating solutions to some of the most vexing city pollution issues.
Aidan Dwyer took a hike through the trees last winter and took notice of patterns in the mangle of branches. His studies into how they branch in very specific ways lead him to a central guiding formula, the Fibonacci sequence. Take a number, add it to the number before it in a sequence like 1+1=2 then 2+1=3 then 3+2=5, 8, 13, 21 and so on a very specific pattern emerges. Turns out the pattern and its corresponding ratios are reflected in nature all the time, and Aidan’s keen observation of how trees branch according to the formula lead him to test the theory.
After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent - it's a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design.
SMIT, which stands for Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology, began turning heads with its leaf-like photovoltaic panels that generate power using both the sun and the wind. Designed to be totally modular and easily installed on any building, Solar Ivy now comes in a range of colors, leaf shapes, and photovoltaic panel types.
The highlight of the new reserve is the beautiful floating eco-village with decks for visitors to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The tall roofed buildings feature oak shingles, newspaper insulation and other reclaimed materials in their construction. Floating on a large pontoon made from hollow concrete, the village need not worry about seasonal fluctuations in the wetlands water level. In this way, the village minimizes its impact on the environment and reduces the risk of damage from flooding.
Situated on a former parking lot beside the Basillica St. Castor in Koblenz, the building is designed to subtly integrate with the surrounding environment. The printed glass facade reflects the trees surrounding the building, helping to blur the boundary between the structure and its position in an urban site. The structure can be dismantled and reassembled once the show is over in October, allowing it to be exhibited in other locations
At night the intricate structure bursts into light, reacting to physical movements by changing luminosity and color.
The Industrial Revolution and now the Digital Revolution. Today, in the information age, architecture is a technology platform that consists of computer system connections and new materials.
ENCLOSED BUILDING: The façade, made of inflatable ETFE cushions oriented south, act as a variable sunscreen, opening in winter to gain solar energy, and closing in summer to protect and shade. In the south west façade, Nitrogen based fog is introduced in the cushions, that by increasing its particles greater opacity is produced, thereby protecting users.
MONITORING: Both the façades and offices have been equipped with multiple temperature sensors, humidity or pressure that collect exterior information to adjust the interior conditions.
Media-ICT targets and achieves: 1-20% CO2 reduction due to the use of District Cooling, clean energy. 2-10% CO2 reduction due to the photovoltaic roof. 3-55% CO2 reduction due to the dynamic ETFE sun filters. 4-10% CO2 reduction due to energy efficiency related to smart sensors. Total 95% CO2 reduction, the Media-ICT is a NET building almost a net zero building.
The main idea of this project is to create a green ribbon of parks and recreational areas that will connect the Vincennes and the Boulogne forests – the two major lungs of Paris. The ribbon will be equipped with a series of skyscrapers that will inject programs to the city. Some of them will be used as housing while others will have museums or restaurants. Its triangulated steel structure is a three dimensional network of voids and surfaces inspired by the Origami pleating game.
London farm tower designed by Brandon Martella rests on the south bank of the Thames River overlooking Potter’s Field. Like a tree the tower collects rainwater and solar energy to maintain survival. Wind is harvested through vertical axis turbines that align the perimeter structure. The residential programmed floors take advantage of cross ventilation through the use of operable windows and louvers while the hydroponic floors are a continual hydronic system recycling the humid green house air content by collecting condensated water on the inside of the ETFE pillows and letting gravity bring the water down through the hydroponic racks.
Each farming level contains an open steel grating allowing the tower to function as a cooling stack between the residential and agricultural program. At night the tower will glow as a beacon of new life, ironic to the historical burial grounds of Potter’s Field, creating a new opportunity for social sustainability, utilizing uv lighting to maintain 24/7 growing efficiencies. With one million cubic feet of growable volume the tower can produce an average of 36.6 lbs of a wide variety of fruit and vegetable type per 100 sq ft to annually produce 1.5 million lbs of fresh fruit and vegetables, ultimately feeding 20% of London.
If the Kickstarter campaign is funded, Ramsey and Barasch will create a larger prototype of the sunlight irrigation device for the Low Line park. The system, which evokes a sci-fi dystopian future where humans are driven underground, is being designed entirely from the mind of Ramsey, with no preexisting systems to model from. Called the Remote Skylight, it would siphon the sun’s rays through a combination of skylights and fiber-optic lighting powered by street level solar panels. The skylights would channel light with reflected dishes that would refract light down below.
The subterranean park would occupy an abandoned train track below Delancey Street on the Lower East Side and infuse plant life and greenery to the underground space. The futuristic idea would repurpose unused space that has been left abandoned for 60 years, covering 2 acres of underground space.
The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe has no conventional air-conditioning or heating, yet stays regulated year round with dramatically less energy consumption, the building uses less than 10% of the energy of a conventional office tower in similar size, thus saving the management $3.5 million a year on air-conditioning.
Designed by architect Mick Pearce in conjunction with engineers at Arup Associates using design methods inspired by indigenous Zimbabwean masonry and the self-cooling mounds of African termites, inorder to achieve this, fresh air is continuously drawn from the open space by fans on the first floor, it is pushed into the core of the building through vertical ducts, thus the fresh air replaces stale air that rises and exits through exhaust ports in the ceilings of each floor.
Melbourne's CBD is set to have a new high-rise, residential tower accented with crystalline balconies and punctuated with gardens. Designed as a vertical street, residents of the tower will be able to enjoy a community garden on every sixth floor, which may be more park space than most urban areas get. Crystal Gardens, designed by CK Designworks, will also feature energy efficient design, rainwater collection and heat reflective glass - all part of an overall sustainability strategy.
The conceptual launching point of the project, called Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution , incorporates an algae farm and bioreactor onto the sunny southern side of the building to provide energy and clean both wastewater and air at the same time. Inspired by that fresh approach, the team’s proposal is a thorough re-visioning of making the building fully integrated with the city, the environment and workers.
The waterfront façade of the building is made of individual polygonal glass frames resembling sparkly fish scales, which reflect water and light, creating a kaleidoscope of luminous colors. Aside from lighting up the harbor, the glass allows total usage of natural lighting during daytime, changing hues as the seasons change. In the evening, a system of LED lights illuminate the inside, giving the building a warm glow that is reflected in the dark waters of the harbor.
The massive 28,000 square meter interior, designed by Henning Larsen and Batteriid Architects, hosts four main halls which represent the elements. A firey 1800 seat grand concert hall, called Eldborg, emulates Iceland’s volcanic activity. The smaller halls represent the Northern Lights (air), calcite crystals (earth), and a cold lagoon (water).
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