Future Cityscapes: Dream Big

High-rise farming is fast becoming the latest trend in the urban gardening movement. If this new practice proves successful, city dwellers could soon be rambling around a sixth-floor orchard to harvest fresh strawberries for an after dinner delight from their very own ‘farmscraper.’

As a dweller of a city like London, when you hear the words ‘food in the sky’ your brain conjures up little more than the image of a few balcony planters and wall-mounted growing baskets, but oh no, this new term is now being coined for much more sophisticated plans. ‘Food in the sky’ is the name given to the produce of the high-rise farm plan designed by architect Vincent Callebaut. Allow your space deprived, city dweller mind to think beyond balcony planters and imagine vast rice paddies and orchards housed inside glass enclosures that both heat and cool themselves using wind and solar energy. This new style of urban gardening is truly sustainable, it captures rainwater and residential wastewater and recirculates it for the plants.

Belgian architect Callebaut designed the 132-floor urban farm plan, entitled ‘Project Dragonfly’, with the vision of creating a metropolitan gardening and living arrangement that will lead to a ‘healthier, happier future’ for the estimated six billion people who will live in urban areas by 2050. The plans involve an enormous vertical farm housed inside twin towers constructed in steel and glass wuth a wing edifice which resemble a dragonfly (hence the name Project Dragonfly). Alongside rice paddies and orchards, the structure also includes space for dairy, egg and meat production, public recreation areas, meadows, and offices or apartments.

Callebaut’s vision is to create a ‘living organism’ or self-sufficient style of metropolitan living saying in an interview for AFP News,

‘We need to invent new ways of living in the future. The city of tomorrow will be dense, green, and connected. The goal is to bring agriculture and nature back into the urban core so that by 2050 we have green, sustainable cities where humans live in balance with their environment. … They [critics] made fun of me. They said I created a piece of science fiction.’

Callebaut debuted his design at an international fair in China in 2013 and received huge amounts of interest in the project but as of yet no buyers have yet stepped forward. So is this something that could work for our great city, the City of London? Well here at Flor & Cesta we’ve certainly been giving it some thought.

Currently topping the poll of likely developments in London is quite the opposite design, with London based eco-architects opting for underground designs in the form of multi-layered basement extensions that could see London’s buildings have as many floors below ground as they do above. This has not proved popular with councils thought and some councils are already banning the practice and many other local authorities may follow suit.

Floating zones on London’s waterways that harness solar and tidal energy and farms that house crops and animals in tall, tiered structures to combat space shortages were voted the most likely solution to emerge by architect and University of Westminster lecturer Arthur Mamou-Mani.

The option’s are vast, but one thing we think we can be sure of is that the future of the sustainable city will be either up (think farmscrapers) or down (think micro-climates and bunker style farming). As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, city populations explode and the effects of global warming become more apparent our lives as city dwellers will start to change with urban living plans that currently seem futuristic becoming an ever more likely feature in our cityscapes.

Read more about Vincent Callebaut’s projects.

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