Vertical Farm, Agricultural Center, Conceptual Proposal
Winner, Concept Category @ Green Dot Design Award 2013
Second Prize, Urban Concept Category @ Rethinking the Future 2014
Special Mention @ WT Smart City Award 2014
Finalist, Place by Design @ SXSW Eco Awards 2014
The Urban Skyfarm is a vertical farm design proposal for a site located in downtown Seoul, right adjacent to the Cheonggyecheon stream which is a heavily populated dense urban area within the central business district. Inspired by the ecological system of giant trees, the Urban Skyfarm is a prototype vertical farm project which would mainly support local food production and distribution while at the same time contribute to improving the environmental quality through water, air filtration and renewable energy production.
Through lifting the main food production field high up in the air, the vegetation gains more exposure toward the natural sunlight and fresh air while the ground level becomes more freed up with nicely shaded open spaces which could be enjoyed by the public. The bio mimicry of the tree form gives many structural and environmental advantages to form a light weight efficient space frame which could host diverse farming activities. The four major components which are the root, trunk, branch and leaf each have their own spatial characteristics which are suitable for various farming conditions.
Environmentally, the Urban Skyfarm acts as a living machine which helps improving the environmental quality by filtering water and air, providing green, and producing renewable energy. The dense urban development will benefit from the additional green space by having reduced heat accumulation, storm water runoff and carbon dioxide. The Urban Skyfarm is a net zero facility which operates only with the renewable energy produced by solar and wind energy. The vegetations and plantations will consistently convert carbon dioxide into oxygen which will help the city become low carbon. The water processing system includes water collection, water filtering and final processing facilities which filter the grey water or storm water, process it and either distribute it for irrigation or give it back to the Cheonggyecheon stream.
In order to gain maximum exposure toward sun light, the vertical garden lifts the main outdoor vegetation area higher up in the air which is called the leaf portion where mostly medium based hydroponic fruit trees and larger scale vegetables needing more exposure toward outside air and sunlight can be produced. The lower portions are controlled indoor environments using solution based hydroponic farming with artificial lighting which are more suitable for indoor products such as basil, arugula or bok choy etc. The Urban Skyfarm provides 44,000 m2 outdoor farming deck space in the leaf portion and 28,000m2 for the indoor farming on the lower portion along with 3,200 m2 solar PV panel area for renewable energy production.
The Urban Skyfarm consists of four major components which are the root, trunk, branch and leaves which all have different spatial characteristics to support diverse farming activities. The root portion provides a wide column free environmentally controlled space which is ideal for market places and public activities. The vertical load of the structural skin transfers the load to the ground level as it spreads out toward the edge. The trunk area is a nice thin vertical space with excellent views toward the city which can be used as community garden spaces for the local people. The trunk divides into eight individual branches which each support about 60~70 farming decks which are suspended from each branch by structural trusses and tension cables. The farming decks which are the leaf portions, are spread out as much as possible to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. Each farming deck is equipped with supplementary heating and LED lighting systems to provide optimal environmental conditions for farming.
The Urban Skyfarm acts as a community garden hub where people can easily visit, grow their vegetations and participate in the final production by either bringing it home or selling it back to the local community. The central food market will host local mobile farmer markets around the neighborhood which will circulate through the city to facilitate producing and trading local food products grown by the local roof gardens within the community.
The Tree-like form creates a strong iconic figure in the prominent location and becomes a symbol of well being and sustainable development. By creating more cultivation space through vertical stacking of farming decks, the dense urban development will gain more balance in between the urban development and ecology. Together with the Cheonggyecheon stream, the Urban Skyfarm will become a nice destination place for people seeking for fresh food, air and relaxation within their busy urban life.