Dragonfly Vertical Farm concept by Vincent Callebaut

Amidst financial buildings and high-rise apartments, Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has redefined the conventional skyscraper. His 132 story complex for the south edge of Roosevelt Island addresses the pressing need for environmental and ecological sustainability. This conceptual design focuses on creating a completely self-sustaining organism that not only utilizes solar, wind, and water energies, but also addresses the pending food shortage problem.

More after the break.

The mixed programs in Callebaut’s are centered around two main towers. These symmetrically arranged towers allow growth to expand vertically rather than horizontally to account for the crowded Manhattan conditions. A sprawling greenhouse links the two towers and helps carry the load of the building. The complex is arranged in a way that housing units and work offices are interspersed between meadows and farms.

The metal and glass wings, directly inspired by the exoskeleton of a dragonfly, house the plant and animal farms. Due to the appropriate sun and wind conditions within these wings, proper soil nutrient levels can be achieved to maximize plant growth. Exterior vertical gardens filter rain water, and once that water is mixed with domestic liquid waste, both are treated organically in order to be reused for farming needs.

The space between the wings accumulates warm air from the exoskeleton to heat the complex during the winter, while natural ventilation teamed with plant evapo-perspiration will cool the air during the summer.

Callebaut imagines the occupants of the Dragonfly caring for its vast fields, thus allowing each user the opportunity to make the complex a success. Although Dubai seems like the perfect place for such an experiment, Callebaut has not given up hope that New Yorkers can also pave the way during this sustainable era.

Seen at Designboom.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Dragonfly Vertical Farm concept by Vincent Callebaut" 23 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=22969>
  • D.


  • http://www.zum.arquitectos.eu zn

    unificient.let’s keep farms horizontal

  • http://www.ft3arc.com Fino

    So left field……I really wouldn’t know how to conjure up any kind of criticism. I’ll let someone else take a whack at this one. haha

    that is all.

  • Balkan

    On first view I thought it is another Dubai. From outside it is very ugly but in last 2 interior views I could say that I find some positive stuff.

  • dustin

    Why would we ever need this? What is the deal with these new vertical urban farms? I can see this happening one day on the moon but there is no need for it here, like zn said, lets keep farms horizontal, in the country where they belong. Just the cost of the megastructure hardly seems sustainable, and produce already losses 50% of its nutritional value when farmed grown. Now imagine the consecuences of taking plants completly out of there natural enviroment = disaster waiting to happen.

    • Joe

      Well Dustin, you are wondering why we need this? Well for starters, the earth only adds 100,000,000 people every year on average. Therefore we need more food. we also need to invest into the future for our people, this is of of those things if we don’t invest now, we will be dealing with it later. Another thing is that while natural food growing is nutritiously better, it’s better that every one gets food then a few people who can afford organic food get food. And if you ask me, cities need more plants, so the air will be cleaner, and people will be happier. It also make people jobs if we build more things like this, we really need jobs here, my father has been a Union Construction supervisor, and he had lost his job thank to the economic recession were in right now. If we build more buildings like this, there will be more jobs in the short term and in the long term! So if you ask me, this building, and other buildings like it will help The Environment, City pride, and the most important; our economy!

  • dustin

    cool images though.

  • MJ

    3dsMax+Photoshop work = 5/10
    brain work = 1/10

    enough said.

  • kc

    dragonfly wings are very beautiful, but why this project does not look as inspiring. whenever I start to read about all these natural cycles like in some science magazine, it’s putting me to sleep and meanwhile the techies gone green wild do not care about the actual architecture – as always is the case. First you try to take over nature, then you try to take over architecture, everything that has a human soul attached to it, and DELete. If I really wanted sustainable living I’d leave the city and try to develop a plot of land without mechanized means – and I know how hard it is. I do not see sacrifice in this building.

  • PB

    I have to see, I’ve seen similar ideas before that were better worked out. However, I think everyone who’s left criticism so far has missed the point. Vertical or tower farming is a potential method that would reduce the impact of large urban areas, such as NYC, on the state and national infrastructure, while also providing local production of food (something not readily available in NYC). As megalopolises continue to grow, they push production farming further and further from the center of the city. In a era where we car easily expect the transportation of foodstuffs to grow dramatically in cost, we need to find more inventive ways of providing cost effective food. Locally produced food also decreases the carbon impact of food production and consumption.

    that said-I think this design is a little much. I like the concept and I think the stripped down model isn’t bad looking, but I think the size, scale and massing needs to be reworked-this is the chunkiest dragonfly I’ve ever seen.

    Best of luck in reworking the design.

  • David Cacho

    I’m exploring my self the movement of architecture towards a living organism, and I’m glad to see others do the same, but I vomit my lungs when I see unconscious decisions been made by so called “green architects” that need a “green” building on their contemporary portfolio just to validate themselves as one. But how can you know how to identify these guys? Trough their work. And what do they reveal trough their work? Their thinking. So you guess when you see an interior render with views to the exterior, like for instance the last one on this project, would you agree to use the same unsustainable design pattern of using cliché wood floors, and furniture, that for some reason give the impression of been recycle from another project. Well may be there lies the real “green” part of the project…. // Puerto Rico.

  • mm

    When I see a project like this (project with grand scale and nice renderings that ussualy jump out of reality) on this website, I always find at least 5 comments about how it’s ugly.
    Those comments speak only about people that posted it, and nothing about the real critics. People here are ussualy architects, and I can’t believe they can satisfy themselves with a comments about prettiness of the object. Did anybody really think about it’s main function – vertical farm! Why? Because we don’t have enough space on this planet, we need projects like these.
    MJ says:

    3dsMax+Photoshop work = 5/10
    brain work = 1/10

    enough said.

    MJ didn’t even think about objects functions and why is that form, only about renders, which can tell much, but much more is in the text, which wasn’t read, obviously…

    Anyway, I think that projekt is nice conceptualy, and opens a lot of discussions about building programs like this.

    Please, it doesn’t matter if the building is ugly or pretty, but is it smart or stupid?

  • :]

    Que diabo é isso!?

    Não respeita a escala da cidade. Desproporcional e estranho ao entorno…

  • Nom_de_Guerre

    Eco-Design FAIL

  • walter faulk

    looks familar….Romses’s winning submission for the Formshift competition looks alot like this one.

  • http://www.ft3arc.com Fino


    I agree, but I think a smart building should not be an alienating one. Right now, this projects seems extremely aggressive and intentionally self righteous.

  • tzaar

    tough shit- it is ugly, and it means that we can’t actually engage the program and intentions because it is so wildly self indulgent. seriously, these are very impressive renderings but the amount of time that went into them is so much more than the thought that went into them. what is that giant chrome fillet on the outside edge of this building? lazy!

    but as far as the farms go- I would need to see a little more analysis. How many people can this thing feed? What is the cost/benefit analysis? do you REALLY expect the people that live here to tend the fields? And these renderings of the farms… please. How does one tend the vines growing from the ceiling? How can you justify the massive amount of public/generic strolling space through the gardens.

    I want to love projects like this. I want to embrace them, but good lord, think about what you’re doing before you put in all of this effort.

    and what is this even made of?
    form has consequence!

  • charles

    until a farm in new york can economically justify the square footage it takes up, in comparison to a financial office, brokerage firm, hell even an architecture firm, concepts like this cant be anything more than concepts.

    in the meantime, it seems alot more feasible to try and integrate vegetation and farming into an existing building type. there are great examples of roof gardens that are doing this nicely, though also inefficiently.

  • dustin

    “Please, it doesn’t matter if the building is ugly or pretty, but is it smart or stupid?”
    basic principles of architecture: firmitas, utilitas, VENUSTAS. Yes mm, it does matter if a building is ugly or pretty, it’s called Aesthetics and it is one of the most important parts of Architecture or any other art. A building that has a great structure and function is not complete without it’s good looks.
    I am not saying this is an ugly building. I am saying you are wrong if you think aesthetics are not important. become an engineer. Or an accountant.
    Is this a smart building? what is a stupid building?

  • thiago

    I think mr. callebaut is a marketing genius… apart of his designs – sometimes ok, sometimes great – he have really nice way to present it, sell himself to the big public. At least here in Brazil, the last 2 “architectures” that received any media publishing was his lillypad city and that tower that turns in itself, I forgot the name of the architect.
    About his designs, I think he is always the 2nd to propose, I mean, he can’t come with anything really new, but he does it in a nice and beautiful way, showing himself… maybe in the future he will get some real job to do and we can see if he’s good enough.
    I really like this approach of marketing. At least he is being honest.

  • @

    As a student I work with lots of people who adore radical formalism. It is all well and good when there is some deconstructivist philosophical backing, but that is a rare case. People are too caught up trying to be the next Frank Gehry and not concerned with producing good architecture. I would not describe myself as a functionalist but, to a certain extent the form must serve a purpose, and making allusions to dragonflies as a green model is not the way to do it. A building can make allusions but one hit wonders of ideas like this aren’t good. Gehry’s fish are successful because they do things not because they look like fish, that’s just a playful part of it. This project seems all too serious about it and is far far too literal. So on behalf of myself, my fellow students, and the future of the profession, please for the love of god stop spitting out things like this and focus on innovations in program and actual design, vertical farming is great, whats the next step? Til you can provide a design to answer that question in a way that both embraces and challenges society stay away from metaphorical allusions and annoyingly literal designs because they encourage bad designs in students.

  • jr

    please dont make NY like ¨dubai crap/joke architecture¨

  • dustin

    Another thought. Since when is architecture a universal product? Why is it possible to make the same building in Dubai and NewYork? Where is the context study? Climate study? Guess what… Dubai is a desert.. this is supposed to be a green, sustainable building? Give me a break. This is happening occasionally in Architecture now of days, the rotating building is another example. Where is this profession going?

  • bamboozaal

    to thiago

    You mentioned that he is always ’2nd’
    I suppose you are referring to Lilypad (which looks so much like BIG/PLOT’s ‘MER’ project)
    or his ‘Perfumed Jungle’ (which is eerily similar to Mass Studies’ Soeul Commune)
    If you take away ripped off concepts from others, brilliant renderings by Pixelab what are you left with??
    Well you nailed it in your first line – marketing
    There isn’t much else

  • http://architecture-aerobic-association.blogspot.com/ Fran

    Is Caillebaut an architect ?
    What is his motivation ?

    His works reminds me some utopist work of architect that were actually constructing buildings in the same time.

    When finally Caillebaut will build something, he’ll be very disappointed

  • Nick

    Conceptual and academic. Don’t worry

  • Bo Lucky

    Evaluation of a project as per a private set of principles (e.g. sense of personal taste or needs) is always subjective and without explaining what criteria were used, it has no value at all. Aesthetics is also very subjective – therefore, as long as principles applied by a reviewer are unknown, it really does not matter what a critique says. It is important whether a building is functionally comfortable, visually harmonious with its surroundings (since I personally do not agree with those who are shaping Dubai), and (to a degree) user friendly. I like this dragonfly building the same way I like a nicely designed book cover and if somebody else likes it, it only means that we share a similar sense of beauty… but who cares if we like it or not if we do not exactly define why. To provide a constructive feedback, a set of “measurable” criteria must be applied to a specific areas of the assessed project, then a result could be more concrete and useful. Otherwise we can only talk, and talk, and talk, and talk… though… there may be a purpose in talking too…

  • kevin

    loving nick´s comment ! ;)

  • joe shmo

    awesome building love it!

  • tom

    this building is simply the ugliest thing i have seen!

  • eee

    uuuuuhhhh….Ahhhhhhh….Another peace of intellectual BS!!!! something gotta change with this whole modern “green” architecture crap…