Posts Tagged ‘vertical farming’

Dickson Despommier Does it Again

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

You gotta give it to Dickson Despommier—he’s certainly persistent. The professor of public health at Columbia University has been pushing the concept of vertical farming in cities for the past several years, and he made his pitch again in Sunday’s New York Times. He even tossed in a few stats on the economics of growing food in urban highrises to counter the arguments of skeptics. You can find my previous takes on vertical agriculture here,  here, and here.

Vertical Vegetecture

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

It remains to be seen whether vertical farming in cities is feasible economically, but it’s sure inspiring a growing number of architects. You’ll find a thumbnail history of the sky farm, as well as 16 different designs, at Dornob. Two of my favorites—complete with stunning renderings—are Eric Ellingsen’s and Dickson Despommier’s Pyramid Farm, and Vincent Callebaut’s Dragonfly Farm.

Can Somebody Please Give this Guy a Grant

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Dickson Despommier, the Columbia professor and proponent of vertical farming in cities, has become a celebrity of sorts. He’s appeared in just about every major magazine. He was even interviewed on the Colbert Report. Now all he needs is some money to build one of his agricultural highrises.

In an interview in Next American City, Despommier says that several cities and countries have expressed interest, including New York, Shanghai, Masdar City (the zero-carbon solar city under construction in Abu Dhabi), and the nation of Jordan. But so far nobody has come up with the bucks.

Memo to Mayor Bloomberg: Is vertical farming really such a radical idea? Eli Zabar is already growing veggies in the rooftop greenhouse of the Vinegar Factory. Why not make it possible for Despommier to ramp up the technology and develop a prototype in Gotham?

Biomorphic Skyscrapers

Monday, February 16th, 2009

According to the U.N., half the world’s population already lives in urban areas, and about 70 percent will be city dwellers by 2050. What kind of structures can accommodate all these people while promoting human and environmental health and creativity? An increasing number of architects are looking to plants to find solutions.

The population of tropical cities in particular is expected to skyrocket. Inspired by the densely layered life forms found in tropical rainforests, among the most biodiverse natural communities on the planet, TROPICOOL@KL envisions mushroom-like skyscrapers punctuating Kuala Lumpur’s skyline. These highrise structures, which look as much like the Coney Island Parachute Jump as they do mushrooms, mimic the five layers found in tropical rainforests: the overstory, the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer, and the forest floor. Solar panels in their circular tops provide energy, just like the photosynthesizing leaves that comprise a rainforest canopy. Scattered throughout the branches of the self-sustaining, off-the-grid skyscrapers are apartments modeled after vernacular Malaysian dwellings. 

Intended for Manhattan’s currently semi-industrial Hudson Yards area, which runs roughly from West 42nd Street south to West 30th Street and from Eighth Avenue west to the Hudson River, Eric Vergne’s unfortunately named Dystopian Farm is a skyscraper that combines spaces for housing, markets, and food production. Vergne says he modeled his design after the cellular structure of ferns, and that the building will use biomorphic systems such as aeroponics to meet the food demands of a growing urban population.

Although vertical farming in cities has inspired the design world, some skeptics have claimed it makes no sense financially because urban real estate is too expensive. Our current economic mess, however, just may create a window of opportunity for such visionary projects. In the words of Stanford economist Paul Romer, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

First-Ever Vertical Farming Summit

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

This weekend in Berkeley, experts from a variety of disciplines including architecture, structural engineering, greenhouse growing, composting, alternative energy, aquaculture, hydroponics, integrated biological systems, sustainable farming, and urban agriculture are meeting for the first summit on vertical farming in urban areas, also rather inelegantly known as building-integrated sustainable agriculture.

The summit’s co-organizers are Keith Agoada and James Kalin, founder and technical director, respectively, of Sky Vegetables, launched by Agoada to build hydroponic greenhouses on the rooftops of grocery stores. A list of presenters and presentations will be posted on the Sky Vegetables website at the close of the conference. Their prototype system is featured on the site.