In increasingly denser urban environments, there is a new-found interest in underused spaces as opportunities for further development. Representing up to 25% of cities' land area, rooftops are among the most exciting spatial resources. From sustainable infrastructure and urban farming to social spaces and cultural venues, the article looks into the potential of creating a multi-layered city through the activation of urban rooftops.
Urban Farming: The Latest Architecture and News
Framlab, an innovation studio based in Bergen and New York City has created Glasir, a community-based system for urban farming. The proposed modular structure relies on aeroponic growth systems to provide local products.
The Netherlands is the world’s second-biggest exporter of agricultural products. This is remarkable when one considers that the only country which tops the Netherlands, the United States, is 237 times bigger in land area. Nevertheless, the Netherlands exported almost $100 billion in agricultural goods in 2017 alone, as well as $10 billion in agriculture-related products. The secret to the Netherlands’ success lies in the use of architectural innovation to reimagine what an agricultural landscape can look like.
Indoor gardens can contribute important benefits to home living, ranging from aesthetic beauty to improved health and productivity. Research has shown that indoor plants help eliminate indoor air pollutants called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that emanate from adhesives, furnishings, clothing, and solvents, and are known to cause illnesses. They also increase subjective perceptions of concentration and satisfaction, as well as objective measures of productivity. Indoor gardens may even reduce energy use and costs because of the reduced need for air circulation. These benefits complement the obvious aesthetic advantages of a well-designed garden, making the indoor garden an attractive residential feature on several fronts.
Food production is directly reliant on bees, and their disappearance could lead to catastrophic effects on humanity. There are alarming reports all over the internet about how these little insects are dying. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 75% of the world's food crops rely on bees. For example, it is only possible to have a juicy and well-developed strawberry if dozens of bees go by the flower at the right time and pollinate it. Without them, it would look more like a raisin.
Dubai Based architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid along with Steven Velegrinis, Drew Gilbert & Abdelrahman Magdy have unveiled “LifeLines,” their vision for the future of Cairo. Centered on the idea of connecting people with water, a series of lines and paths are laid over the city to serve as a catalyst for development.
As urban dwellers become more aware of the environmental impacts of food production and transportation, as well as the origin and security of what they consume, urban agriculture is bound to grow and attract public and political eyes. Bringing food production closer, in addition to being sustainable, is pedagogical. However, generally with small size and other restrictions, the concerns of growing food in cities differ somewhat from traditional farming.
Urban gardens can occupy a multitude of places and have varied scales - window sills and balconies, slabs and vacant lots, courtyards of schools, public parks and even unlikely places, such as subway tunnels. They can also be communitarian or private. Whatever the case, it is important to consider some variables:
Tom Dixon and IKEA have developed “Gardening Will Save The World,” an experiment in urban farming to be exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Exploring the contrast of the hyper-natural and hyper-tech, the garden offers ideas in alternative, local, and more sustainable ways of growing food.
Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled images of their tribute to Notre-Dame Cathedral following the fire that badly damaged the historic structure. A transcendent project that forms a symbol of a resilient and ecological future, the project is inspired by biomimicry and a common ethic for a fairer symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.
MVRDV has broken ground on a wholesale market for fruit and vegetables in Tainan, Taiwan. Defined by a terraced, accessible green roof, the open-air market will serve as both an important hub in Taiwan’s supply chain, and a destination for meeting, socializing, and taking in views of the surrounding landscape.
Named the “Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market,” the MVRDV scheme transforms an often-prosaic aspect of the food industry into a public experience of food and nature. Located in a strategic position between the city and mountains, with good public transport links, the scheme sits at a convenient node for traders, buyers, and visitors.
Studio NAB has released details of their proposed Superfarm project, a six-story exercise in indoor urban farming that “focuses its production on the culture of foods with a high nutritional value.” The project is founded on the principles of pragmatic implementation, high-yielding foods, reducing health risks, promoting short circuits, reviving economies, energy self-sufficiency.
The scheme is a response to the projections that by 2050, 80% of the earth’s population will live in urban centers, demanding an area of farmland 20% more than is represented by the country of Brazil. By moving farm systems indoors, Superfarm represents an “ecological transition” that is resilient, human-sensitive, and technologically advanced.
It is, once again, the time of year where we look towards the future to define the goals and approaches that we will take for our careers throughout the upcoming year. To help the millions of architects who visit ArchDaily every day from all over the world, we compiled a list of the most popular ideas of 2018, which will continue to be developed and consolidated throughout 2019.
Over 130 million users discovered new references, materials, and tools in 2018 alone, infusing their practice of architecture with the means to improve the quality of life for our cities and built spaces. As users demonstrated certain affinities and/or demonstrated greater interest in particular topics, these emerged as trends.
In a design proposal for Soprema’s new company headquarters in Strasbourg, France, Vincent Callebaut Architectures envisions an 8,225 square-meter ecological utopia. The building, called Semaphore, is described in the program as a “green flex office for nomad co-workers” and is dedicated to urban agriculture and employee well-being.
An eco-futuristic building, Semaphore is inspired by biomimicry and intended as a poetic landmark, as well as aiming to serve as a showcase for Soprema’s entire range of insulation, waterproofing, and greening products. The design is an ecological prototype of the green city of the future, working to achieve a symbiosis between humans and nature.
IKEA and Tom Dixon have collaborated to investigate the future of urban farming, “making homes the new farmland.” In an upcoming entry to the Chelsea Flower Show, the UK’s most popular landscape event, the team will share their first ideas on how “affordable, forward-thinking solutions can be used to grow plants and vegetables at home and beyond.”
The ethos behind the collaboration is to celebrate food as a crucial part of everyday life, and inspiring a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Identifying the potential savings in transport miles, water usage, and food waste, the team will use IKEA’s democratic design principles to “develop affordable, sustainable food farming and consumption within our homes and urban communities.”
Food is one of the most fundamental elements of human existence. Looking back, the way we produce, store and consume food has evolved greatly. Humans have thrived because our ancestors learnt how to gather, produce and consume food, all with their bare hands. And mankind has sustained due to these crucial elements of knowledge passed through generations. With industrialization came mass production, and with mass production came an influx of consumers - who started paying instead. Skills and crafts related to agriculture and food production are now mostly obsolete in the urbane environment. Mass consumerism through supermarkets and even
Danish firm Henning Larsen has released images of their competition-winning Key West urban development, seeking to revitalize a socio-economically challenged area of the Belgian capital Brussels. Developed in collaboration with A2RC Architects, the masterplan aims to balance urban and recreational life along the Brussels Canal Zone through a combination of housing, schools, urban farming, and a market hall.
Like many European cities, Brussels is moving towards a post-industrial economy, giving new opportunities to old industrial areas such as the Canal Zone. The Henning Larsen redevelopment seeks to remodel the area as an urban center, tying the urban areas west of the canal to central Brussels.
In their winning competition entry, French architecture firm Ilimelgo reimagines the future of urban agriculture with a vertical farming complex in the Parisian suburb of Romainville. The project integrates production of produce into the city through a 1000 square meter greenhouse that maximizes sunlight and natural ventilation. Recognizing the developing world’s diminishing agricultural space, the project aims to meet the growing demands for crop cultivation in urban environments.
With nearly 24 million inhabitants to feed and a decline in the availability and quality of agricultural land, the Chinese megacity of Shanghai is set to realize the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, a 100-hectare masterplan designed by US-based firm Sasaki Associates. Situated between Shanghai’s main international airport and the city center, Sunqiao will introduce large-scale vertical farming to the city of soaring skyscrapers. While primarily responding to the growing agricultural demand in the region, Sasaki’s vision goes further, using urban farming as a dynamic living laboratory for innovation, interaction, and education.