A new building design from Swedish startup would create an indoor large-scale, carbon-neutral farm that can be fit into urban environments.
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Industrial farming can be hard on the environment, with the global food system responsible for up to one-third of all greenhouse gases emitted. On top of this, there is a growing realization that producing food locally helps cut down food miles, which in turn reduces carbon dioxide emissions. A number of recent innovations, such as a farm in a box to modular greenhouses designed for urban rooftops have been aimed at reducing food miles. With this in mind, Swedish startup Plantagon Agritechture and Sweco Architects have developed a 16-story tall ‘plantscraper’ – a massive vertical greenhouse intended to allow large-scale organic farming in urban areas, using less energy and with a smaller carbon footprint than conventional farming.
The prototype plantscraper, to be located in Linköping, Sweden, will be a 60-meter high glass building containing an indoor farm and office space for the farm workers. Dubbed the International Centre of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, it will allow for the testing of new agriculture technologies aimed at improving urban farming. Inside the building, plants will be grown in pots and trays positioned around a central helix. As the plants grow, the trays will migrate down the central core until they are ready for harvest at the bottom. Plant waste and used manure will be collected and converted to biogas used to run the heating and cooling systems of the building. Carbon dioxide emissions from the offices will be captured and used for aiding plant growth, while oxygen given off by the plants will be piped in to the office areas.
Plantagon expects the plantscraper to produce 500 metric tons of food every year, and to save up to 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 50 million liters of water compared to traditional farming methods. The company is currently crowdsourcing funding to build the prototype, with construction estimated to take between 12 and 16 months once funding is in place. In 2016, the World Food Building has already won architecture awards by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. In what other ways might buildings by used for agriculture?