Last year, there was a lot of chatter within the green community about a new farming concept that would counter the issue of depleting sustainable food for the American population, primarily for those living in urban areas. It was known as vertical farming.
For those unfamiliar with what it is exactly, data solutions organization Dickson explored the concept as a means to boost urban food security. In an infographic they provided, a 30-story building could feed 50,000 people on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet for an entire year. This is possible by how efficient the vertical farming concept could be, which includes light utilization cutting plant growth time by six to 12 weeks and using 90 percent less water than conventional farming through unique water recycling methods.
Now there is an updated version of vertical farming now being explored. In this version of a vertical farm, all the benefits of vertical farming previously explained are still utilized, but it now incorporates wind power as its source of clean energy.
Inspired by the 2015 Milan Expo theme “Feed the World,” the Skyfarm was developed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to help solve the worldwide food crisis, a debilitating situation exacerbated if traditional food production fails to keep up with the exponentially growing world population. Utilizing the vertical farming method, which has all the aforementioned benefits, as the base, the Skyfarm improves on the design by making it a tensegrity structure with a light bamboo frame. This optimizes solar exposure and efficient water distribution more so than the previous vertical farm model. The upper levels support aquaponics, the agricultural method that produces both crops and fish within a near-closed loop circuit system. The lower levels, specifically the base, can be turned into public areas such as markets, restaurants, and educational facilities. Finally, the Skyfarm can be built in the specification of a location’s climate. For example, a double-skin enclosure and heating can be added if said Skyfarm were built in cooler climates.
It is amazing just how many positive attributes are packed into the Skyfarm. Just the fact it is both a productive and commercial area that concentrates on green technology and green community standards and living is amazing. However, the most interesting part of the Skyfarm is built on the very top of it: the wind turbine. Unlike previous vertical farms that utilize solar energy for its clean source of energy, the Skyfarm relies on the wind. Taking in the design of windmills often used on traditional farms, the wind turbine will rotate to receive an optimum amount of wind force to move the turbine. The power is converted into electricity for the Skyfarm.
The only drawback discerned from this design is the fact the wind turbine is useless on non-windy days. Unless the Skyfarm also has solar panels, something that was not made clear, it may have to depend on either reserve battery power or grid power.
Still, the Skyfarm was a marvel among architects and the green community. According to Inhabitat, the Skyfarm was the winner of the 2014 World Architecture Festival’s Future Projects Experimental category. It was praised by their jury as a “thorough, believable, and beautiful project.” That was two years ago, and it is possible that Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have improved on the design since then. Maybe they actually added solar panels to the Skyfarm given the earlier analysis that the wind turbine would be useless on windless days.
[Image via Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners]