farms are blossoming in several big cities, including Chicago, Kyoto
and Singapore, with plants growing in artificial light in specially
reconfigured buildings. The Brooklyn-based design firm Aprilli
has expanded the idea with a proposal for a giant tree-shaped
skyscraper the architects believe will maximize food production and
improve local environment through water and air filtration and renewable
The Urban Skyfarm, winner of an A'Design Award, is described in a FastCompanyExist story by Adele Peters.
Architects Steve Lee and See Yoon Park told Peters they envision the
giant agricultural skyscraper in the heart of downtown Seoul, South
Korea, a densely populated city with air pollution and other
environmental problems. There's little space for on the ground farming
there, and fresh fruits and vegetables at local markets are in demand
but very expensive.
Urban Skyfarm by Aprilli Design Studio
design mimics the shape of an enormous tree, with leaf-like open air
decks built of strong but light weight materials that provide as much as
24 acres for growing fruit trees and plants like tomatoes. The more
enclosed lower and inner portions of the structure have space for plants
growing in a more controlled environment. The roots, trunk, branches
and leaves have different characteristics to suit different farming conditions. The trunk houses a hydroponic
farm for greens, and wind turbines and solar panels at the top provide
energy to keep the whole mini ecosystem in operation. The solar panels
generate energy for night time lighting and heat where needed for plant
Another idea for agriculture in places where farms won't fit comes from JAPA, a design firm in Barcelona now called Forward Thinking Architecture. Architects there propose a system of looping towers that could float in harbors and provide new space for year round crops. In another FastCompany article by Peters, JAPA architect Javier Ponce explains that a network of towers called floating responsive architecture (FRA)
is designed for Singapore-or any other densely populated city near
water where food is expensively imported from long distances. Throughout
the towers, which would surround the city, networks of sensors would
monitor crops and communicate with networks in the city creating a data
management system that would keep track of food supplies and purchases.
Economists say as much as 30 percent of food is wasted, and Ponce says this system would aim for zero waste.
Kyoto Group - proposed network of towers around Singapore
While creative architectural vertical design may help supply nutritious
food to urban centers in the future, many creative projects are already
producing food in urban areas. One example is the work of entrepreneurs in Chicago
who bought an abandoned factory building and transformed it into a
multi-story indoor farm that produces everything from fish to salad
greens to beer. Another example is Urban Farming Guys,
a nonprofit based in Kansas City, dedicated to creating sustainable
urban communities, starting with local food and water security,
alternative energy and economic resilience.