Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Reclaiming Urban Food Production: 12 Smart Designs for Farms & Gardens
By SA Rogers,
Web Urbanist, 22 February 2017.

Most urban environments aren’t lacking in sunlight - it’s a lack of square footage and healthy soil that makes it hard to use these spaces to grow food. While many a high-tech concept design has envisioned vertical skyscraper farms or entire cities built from scratch, we need low-cost solutions that can be implemented into disused urban spaces, easily assembled and moved when necessary. These smart urban farming and gardening ideas reclaim pallets, cardboard tubes, shipping containers and bicycle wheels, and many take advantage of sunny available spaces on rooftops, in abandoned buildings or along stretches of hot concrete walls.

1. The Growroom: IKEA Flat-Pack Spherical Garden


Developed by IKEA’s external innovation hub, Space10, the Growroom is a spherical structure that makes it easy to grow lots of food in a compact space thanks to its unique design.


Since shipping the structure around the world would be too expensive and negate some of the benefits of local food sourcing, IKEA decided to offer the structure as an open-source design built with plywood, a CNC milling machine and a rubber hammer.

2. Floating Gardens in an Abandoned Chinese Factory


This area along the Pearl River Delta in Shenzhen was once a thriving community relying on fish ponds and water-based commerce, but most of that has since vanished in the face of rapid urbanization, leaving many abandoned structures behind. ‘Floating Fields’ occupies this space and makes it useful again as an aquaponic garden.


Created for the Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale, the installation is an experiment in water-based gardening, algae cultivation, sustainable food production and water filtering in an underutilized urban environment.

3. Recycled Cardboard Tube Garden


Water-resistant, recyclable cardboard tubes provide the basis for a modern pop-up garden in Sydney by Australian design studio Foolscap. The tubes were used to build the walls of a temporary outdoor recreation space, taking inspiration from the formwork used to cast concrete columns in a nearby Sydney neighborhood.


In addition to an outdoor theater, food and co-working areas, ‘Wulugul Pop Up’ had its own edible garden full of native plants.

4. Grid Garden on Wheels


This clever portable garden rests on reclaimed bicycle wheels and features an open gridded design so sunlight can reach tiered plants.


The ‘Why not in the garden?’ installation by A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio was literally rolled out into a Milan city square to demonstrate how concrete urban spaces can be temporarily used for food production.

5. Shipping Container Greenhouse


A greenhouse structure perches atop a shipping container full of planting space in this ‘Urban Farm Unit’ by Damien Chivialle, making it easy to move this aquaponic garden to any suitable location. It even recovers methane from its fish tanks to power an alternate generator.


The units can be pushed together in groups to create bigger structures, or stand alone outside a market or restaurant as a source of hyper-local vegetables and herbs.

6. Industrial Rooftop Gardens


Take that concept, expand it and make it slightly more permanent and you’ve got the ‘Urban Farmers Rooftop’ in Basel, Switzerland by architect Antonio Scarponi. The project makes use of large, flat unused rooftops in the city, taking advantage of lax building codes in industrial areas to build up.


The aquaponic system is contained within two prefabricated modules: a greenhouse, and an area of stacked orange shipping containers where the offices and storage spaces are located.

7. Shanghai Shopping Mall Urban Farm


You wouldn’t expect to find a farm in an urban shopping mall, but Shanghai’s artsy K11 Mall proves that it’s not the craziest idea. Located in the center of the mall, the mini-farm grows seasonal vegetables like eggplant, hot peppers and tomatoes in the summer and greens in the fall.


They are all supported by automatic irrigation systems and LED lighting (photos by Inhabitat).

8. Harvesting Station for Interstitial Spaces


There’s one major drawback to growing food in the city: air pollution. How do you keep all those toxic fumes from contaminating the healthy food you’re trying to produce? ‘Harvesting Station’ by Antonio Scarponi offers a potential solution in the form of an air-filtering greenhouse module protecting plants from animals and pollution while simultaneously harvesting its own water.


The module is designed for interstitial urban spaces, like rooftops, public squares and lots that are in transition.

9. Zighizaghi Modular Plywood Garden


This raised garden is just as pretty as it is smart, using hexagonal plywood shapes to create a honeycomb-like public space full of plants and seating.


Designed by OFL Architecture in collaboration with furniture brand Miliashop, the garden is more attractive than many raised bed designs, and the modules could theoretically be stacked into a more three-dimensional structure for additional benches and steps.

10. Vertical Greenhouses for Paris


Many vertical farm concepts are overly complicated, making them seem like futuristic concepts that will never become reality. This design by Paris-based architectural firm Ilimelgo offers some middle ground in the form of tall and narrow greenhouses with footprints that are fittingly small for cities lacking a lot of available plots of land.


The design aims to maximize crops’ exposure to sunlight and enhance thermal exchange.

11. Vertical Harvest Urban Farm


Structures like this could be added to the side of vast stretches of concrete architecture in any given city, taking advantage of all that sunlight to reduce the urban heat island effect and grow food at the same time.


‘Vertical Harvest’ is a hydroponic urban farm taking up just 1/10th of an acre in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, producing the equivalent of 5 acres of produce each year in response to a need for more locally-grown fruit and vegetables.

12. Kinetic Rooftop Garden Made of Pallets


A row of wood pallets placed along an Italian rooftop creates both flooring and gardening surfaces, with triangular planting beds outlined in alternating black and white. As you walk through the garden, these triangles create a fun kinetic optical illusion, seeming to move.


Designed by Piuarch, the garden makes interesting use of a waste material, providing inspiration for similar projects.

Top image: The Growroom. Credit: Alona Vibe via Designboom.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Some links added.]

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