Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of sustainable agriculture.
What if the future of farming took root in the city rather than in the countryside? London firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners explores that idea with Skyfarm, a hyperboloid tower that combines different farming techniques – from aquaponics to traditional soil-based planting methods – in a bamboo-framed vertical farm designed to produce its own clean energy. The civic project was the 2014 winner of the World Architecture Festivalâ€™s Future Projects Experimental category and was praised by the jury as a â€œthorough, believable, and beautiful project.â€
Inspired by the 2015 Milan Expo theme â€œfeed the world,â€ Skyfarm was developed to help solve the global food crisis, which may be exacerbated if traditional food production fails to keep up with skyrocketing population growth. As an alternative to traditional land-intensive farming, the Skyfarm grows food vertically rather than horizontally, and can be integrated into high-density urban environments. The multi-story tensegrity structure would be made with a light bamboo frame optimized for solar exposure and efficient water distribution.
The scalable and adaptable structureâ€™s upper levels support different kinds of agriculture including aquaponics, which produce crops and fish in a near closed-loop system. The base of the tower can be converted into a market, restaurant, or learning space to educate the public about the farm. Water tanks and wind turbines top the tower. The structure can also be altered for use in different climates; in cooler climates, for example, a double skin enclosure and heating can be applied to optimize growing conditions.
â€œWhile the upfront costs of Skyfarm are higher than standard industrial scale agriculture, the ability to grow produce with a short shelf life, such as strawberries, spinach and lettuce, around the year and close to market without costly air-freighting, makes it an attractive, sustainable proposition,â€ wrote the architects.