Sunday, May 31, 2009

Horizontal v. Vertical Farming

As a continuation of a common recent theme, Treehugger offers some additional questions, as well as a really cool example of a horizontal farm - The Zuidkas, by Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter from the Netherlands. The post makes the case for horizontal vs. vertical farming as perhaps a more realistic opportunity for integrated urban agriculture. Using rooftop greenhouses, along with captured waste heat from buildings, shortening the distance from food to fork and incorporating mixed use into the buildings.

:: images via Treehugger

This decentralized method seems to make sense, although it'd be interesting to see if you could actually grow enough food to sustain the residents of the building using just the available rooftop area. Thus the hybrid between terrestrial farms and intensive vertical farms in one location may be hundreds and thousands of these interventions... and the good thing, the concept, albeit stylized here, could be pragmatically retrofitted to buildings (in the Zabar's model from NYC).

:: images via Treehugger

Some info about the interesting opportunities for closed loop systems that use building inputs and outputs: "The design includes a glass shell that covers the configuration of the ground level and naves, creating a variety of climate buffers, that will work as an intermediate zone that naturally tempers the effects of the outside climate. The shell surrounding the building strongly reduces the surface area responsible for the loss of heat during the winter and cold during the summer. The buffer area facing south functions as a sun lounge for the homes. Thanks to the buffer effect, the loss of heat in the winter is reduced. In the summer, the sun lounge cools the adjacent areas thanks to the stack effect. In this process, fresh air is sucked in and constantly circulated. It will be possible to open the exterior shell, to prevent the area behind the shell from becoming too hot."

Some more images from the De Zuidkas site, along with additional information.

:: images via De Zuidkas

I'm not saying this is a panacea as well - just a good looking and functionally viable of the concept in theory. The point is not to say that vertical farms don't have merit, but I like the well-rounded discussion of urban agriculture that includes full buildings, rooftops, walls, vacant lots, backyards, community gardens - the entire fabric. Feeding people in urban areas, and reducing the distance from food to fork requires integrated planning, design, and implementation. Let's keep that conversation going...!

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