food in the sky

Urban Farming: Food In The Sky Design Touted As Climate Change Aid

High-rise farming is the latest trend in the urban gardening movement. If the new practice proves successful, city dwellers could soon be strolling along a sixth floor orchard to pick fresh apples for an evening snack from their very own “farmescraper.” The “food in the sky” or sky farming concept may conjure up images of balcony planters and wall-mounted growing baskets, but it should not.

Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut designed the 132-floor urban farm plan. He feels such a metropolitan gardening and living arrangement will lead to a “healthier, happier future” for the estimated six billion people who will live in urban areas by 2050. The futuristic high-rise farm involves the development of rice paddies housed inside glass enclosures that both heat and cool themselves. The new style of urban gardening include a setup where rainwater is captured and residential waste water is recirculated for the plants.

The 36-year-old designer believes that the future of cities will be extremely gloomy due to the decrease of water, food, and energy sources. Callebaut’s is advocating for a “living organism” or self-sufficient style or metropolitan living. Some have dismissed his designs as either crazy or a “blight on the landscape,” according to Yahoo News.

Vincent Callebaut had this to say about the new wave of urban farming:

“We need to invent new ways of living in the future. The city of tomorrow will be dense, green, and connected. The goal is to bring agriculture and nature back into the urban core so that by 2050 we have green, sustainable cities where humans live in balance with their environment. They [critics]made fun of me. They said I created a piece of science fiction.”

The sustainable city living movement has reportedly grown urgent due the encroachment upon valuable rural farmland fostered by urban sprawl. Callebaut and his supporters also believe that the loss of land had led to increased pollution and caused “Earth warming” carbon emissions. The designer has entitled his urban gardening project “Dragonfly.” The plans for an enormous vertical farm features twin towers and includes placing the first structure on New York’s Roosevelt Island. Each one of the towers will include a steel and glass wing edifice which will resemble a dragonfly’s wing. A draft of the structure also includes space for diary, egg, and meat production, public recreation areas, meadows, orchards, and offices or apartments.

Energy for the Dragonfly complex will be garnered from both the wind and the sun. Hot air trapped under the “wings” will reportedly provide cool air in the summer and heat in the winter via a natural ventilation process and an abundance of plant growth. Plants growing on the exterior of the building shell will filter rain water which is then mixed with liquid waste and treated to become organic fertilizer. A floating market along the East River will offer the Dragonfly residents a venue to sell their organic crops.

Callebaut debuted his design at an international fair in China. Although the exposure vastly increased interest in the project, no buyers have yet stepped forward.