• Friday, January 09th, 2009

This seems like an idea designed to save a building type that is doomed: energy intensive skyscrapers. The projection referenced below that 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050 is based on the assumption of a steady increase in the production and consumption of oil. In other words, no recognition of Peak Oil.

The reality will be quite different which will make high-rises scary places to live/work in the future (heck, they already are scary!). Putting gardens inside will make them more human friendly and sustainable, but the energy required to transport large quantities of soil and water upward is a fanciful idea that will be laughed at in the future — just like the notion that energy resources on the planet are infinitely available to us.

Via: Urban Neighborhood

…A couple of months ago, a dedicated modeler came up with a collection of ’sky farms’ to be used in the game [SimCity] and I thought, what a cool idea–it would be great to do this in real life. Now it appears that other architects and engineers are working on projects of this type.
In the not so distant future, it is predicted that as much as 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and, by 2050, the population of the world will increase by as many as 3 billion people. Three billion people require a fair bit of food and current farming practices are unlikely to be able to provide the needed supply. Dr Dickson Despommier suggests Vertical Farms, which are at first a radical idea more suited to science fiction, but, after consideration, is not all that radical at all. After all, we have been growing vegetables under green houses for a long time.
Dr. Dickson Despommier’s Vertical Farm website is a clearing house for vertical farm designs and he outlines his vision for what urban farming can and should be. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate).
Concept Diagrams
Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.
Dr. Despommier goes on to outline multiple advantages to this new vision for farming; things like year round crop production (great for Canada), elimination of herbicides and pesticides, and a reduction in agricultural run off as most vertical farm systems have waste water reclamation systems built in. Not to mention a number of other great points.
Adding a grocery store to the ground floor could eliminate shipping costs for all produce and enable these stores to sell produce that is truly fresh, they wouldn’t even have to pick the vegetables prematurely to make them transportable.

The site even has a proposal for Toronto…
Concept Drawing 2
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2 Responses

  1. 1

    What about hydroponics instead of soil? But the thought of all those stairs….. Glass curtain walls could have solar panels integrated too in an ideal plan. Interesting idea, I had heard about it years ago from some PeakOil doom and gloomers.

  2. Hydroponics can be a nice way to preserve soil, but the long term sustainability is not proven, as far as I know.

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