Showcasing Urban Farming at Chart Air Fair, Copenhagen
“we envision a future where we grow much more food inside our cities. Food producing architecture could enable us to do so.”
The “growroom” structure at the Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen allowed visitors to experience the urban farming structure, showing how architecture and sustainability can be integrated to tackle society’s problems, offering fresh solutions.
How Do We Bring Nature Back into Our Cities?
The project was designed to ignite conversations around how to bring nature back into cities as well as introduce urban farming to tackle the increasing demand for food production, which is set to intensify as populations continue to increase.
A Future of Increased Food Growth in Cities
Space10 filled the structure with herbs, vegetables and edible plants as a way of showcasing the full potential of urban farming.
“We envision a future where we start to grow much more food inside our cities. In complete self sustaining eco systems, that supply us with super fresh food of highest quality.”
The structure included a metal framework holding wooden planter boxes on the outside. The inside housed an outdoor lounge, offering a private garden or a public space where friends can meet to talk, sit and relax.
Urban Farming: a Growing Industry
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 800 million people worldwide grow vegetables or fruits or raise animals in cities, producing what the Worldwatch Institute estimated to be an astonishing 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food.
At present, urban farming seems to be small scale, motivated by ideology rather than purely by profit.
The organic market is increasing in popularity as spending on ethical food and drink products hit £8.4 billion in the UK in 2013, making up 8.5 percent of all household food sales, according to the Guardian.
The Benefits of Urban Farming
- Healthier: Growing your own vegetables ensures that no pesticides and artificial ingredients are included to the growing process, which is common in GM produce.
- More sustainable: Smaller scale farming uses fewer pollutants, helps clean the air and rainwater and decreases the carbon footprint.
- Economical: Creates jobs for the community, utilizes unused space and localizes selling and buying of produce.
Inspirational Architectural Urban Farming Designs
- Capital Growth in London is a campaign to design 2,012 growing spaces in the city. An example is FARM:shop in Dalson made by Something & Son LLP, described as “an eco-social design practice.”
- FARM:shop encourages city dwellers to grow their own crops, making a profit at the same time. Their aim is to connect farms and the city to grow food commercially through their network of FARM: shops.
- Brooklyn Grange Urban Rooftop Farm designed by Bromley Caldari Architects is the largest rooftop farm in the US measuring at 40,000 square foot and is a for-profit farm.
The Potential of Urban Farming
IKEA has introduced window-farming equipment, which is a sign that there is an active interest in urban farming among citizens.
Kimbal Musk (brother of Elon Musk) launched an urban farm accelerator in Brooklyn called Square Roots to improve food production in cities. This shows urban farming is a growing movement with potential to become more mainstream.
Square10 sees the potential of urban farming citing new technologies such as computerized automation to help plants “grow 4 or 5 times faster than in a field.”
Other benefits include, “Using 95 percent less water, producing much less waste, and without the need of soil nor sunlight, the method requires much less space than traditional farming, and ultimately leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the environment.”
The Challenges of Urban Farming
At present urban farming is still relatively small scale and not part of the mainstream.
Profits are still relatively limited with research suggesting that two thirds of urban farmers do not receive a living from urban farms. They value self-sufficiency and building a strong community more than profit.
Patrick Holden, founding director and CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust told the Guardian that many of those working in the food sector are paid poorly, ensuring that “the people who produce our food can’t afford good food”. Therefore, urban farming is only viable to those who can afford organic, quality sourced produce.
Do you think urban farming architecture is a viable solution to food production or is it only applicable for the elite?