As the world’s populations continue to sprawl and occupy larger swaths of land, it’s no surprise that agricultural spaces are shrinking like icebergs. But Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, has outlined one potential solution for the crisis: growing up. Not just in our mentality towards environmental stewardship, but in the way we cultivate our food.
He’s the leader behind the “Vertical Farming” initiative, which argues for the creation of high-rise agricultural structures that can grow and distribute food in urban areas. And as a testament to the utility of this idea, Brooklyn design group Aprilli recently won a Futuristic Design award from A’Design for their Urban Skyfarm concept, which is rooted in Despommier’s idea.
Urban Skyfarm was blueprinted for downtown Seoul in the city’s business district that runs along the Cheonggyecheon stream. Its tree-like shape allows for multiple stories of climatized farms which would otherwise sprawl horizontally, and positions those farms closer to the sun and away from the exhaust of cars.
But it’s tree-like shape also works in a variety of other ways. Each of its structural parts are divided and assigned with different functions and purposes. The group touches on this a bit more in their project description:
“The four major components which are the root, trunk, branch and leaf each have their own spatial characteristics which are suitable for various farming conditions. While the upper portions provide open to air farming decks for medium based vegetations, the lower portions enclosed by the structural skin provide more controlled environments for solution based leafy productions.”
And, also just like a tree, it gets its energy from the sun. Photovoltaic cells store energy from the day’s sunshine, which is used for lighting and heat generation at night.
Here are some technical specs:
Essentially, it’s a high-rise series of ecosystems. But humans are included in those ecosystems, too. The various farms and greenbelts located within the building double as public spaces. “Together with the Cheonggyecheon stream, the Urban Skyfarm will become a nice destination place for people seeking for fresh food, air and relaxation within their busy urban life,” says the project abstract. Kinda similar to what Future Cities Lab is up to, over in San Francisco.
Yet another addition to the eco-cities movement, which keeps churning out novel ideas on how to both band-aid and heal whatever human-generated environmental crises loom in the near future. Fingers crossed that, soon, we’ll start seeing more physical constructions and less hypothetical animations.
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