The Sustainable City

Directly across from UTS building one, there stands quite a unique building within Sydney’s already diverse and interesting skyline. The skyscraper, Central at Central, incorporates the natural world into its exterior design, with plants, vines and shrubs crawling down the skyscrapers four sides. The blend between the modern skyscraper construct and its counterpart of the natural world leaves an impression of harmony to the viewer; my eye is constantly drawn to this building every time I come to and from university

Vertical gardens at Central Park building in Sydney, Australia - 20 May 2013

Why though, is this not done more often? as i explored the plethora of high-rise buildings throughout Sydney, there were practically zero other buildings that incorporated this design style in there motive. The hybrid design style seen here could utilised to a far greater effect through out many different cityscapes, incorporating larger amounts of nature based design into the increasingly technologically based city’s we live in could do wonders for not only the general aesthetic of the city, but also as a tool for dealing with many current environmental issues that are continually becoming more ever present in the world.

While the introduction and incorporation of natural elements into modern design is a step in the right direction when trying to deal with environmental issues we are seen develop in urbanised areas (smog blankets have started to effect Sydney in similar ways to how the effect city’s such as LA), the use of nature in city’s could be scaled into a whole new dimension if done correctly. I am talking mostly in this regard about a concept called vertical farming. Vertical farming is essentially the use of vertical skyscraper like structures as farms, rather than the traditional flat hectare plains of land that are used to grow produces currently.

I first stumbled upon the idea for vertical farms while looking for design solutions for our research group’s dystopic 2050 envisionment as a way for dealing with the food crisis. But due to the nature of how our strategies changed in dealing with this situation, vertical farming was pushed to the side. I feel however that it is an extremely viable method for the future in urbanised areas of the world. Due to the fact that the worlds population is increasingly inclined to move into higher populated and more populate dense areas, having vertical farms in these vicinity’s would not only free up valuable habitable hectares of land throughout the world, but also provide a source for fresh produce far closer to its final selling location than currently possible. This is a great double benefit in designing for a future where space and recourses could be extremely limited, providing food for those who are situated in populated areas, and space for construction in un-populated areas.

this TEDx talk provides a nice entry point for some key information on vertical farms

Other major benefits of vertical farming include the increase of crop yield, which is due to several factors, such as greater protection from the elements, due to many crops being in the interior of the structure, as well loosing far less of the final crop production from spoilage or infestation due to shorter distances between growth location and selling location.

There are issues with vertical farming, hence why there are no full-scale vertical farms currently in existence yet. The biggest issue with them is the taking of prime real estate in city’s already known for being extremely competitive in locational ownage, as well as start up costs, which could exceed $100million quite easily. Emission issues are also a problem, and although skyscrapers are renown for absorbing a lot of heat, much of the interior would need to be powered to keep all the crops healthy and at a profitable yield. Current technology in the use of natural energy still seems to be lagging behind the need that we have for it. And until solar panels or wind power is mastered, I cannot see these structures coming into construction.mckinsey-despommier-urban-vertical-farm-diagram

The future for the vertical skyscraper does look promising however. It offers realistic design solutions to a problem that will become increasingly more present as time goes by, and unless new more radical farming systems come into play over the next few years, I feel as if this is the best option for the future of our agricultural industry.

References

walking through Sydney City/CBD

Advanced Aerponic Systems, 2013, Aerofarms Systems LLC, viewed 09/20 2014, <http://aerofarms.com/why/technology/&gt;.

Despommier, D. 2014, The Veritcal Farm, Feeding the 21st Century, viewed 09/02 2014, <http://www.verticalfarm.com/&gt;.

Shop in a Global Village, 2013, Frasers Property, viewed 09/15 2014, <http://www.centralparksydney.com/shop&gt;.

Vertical farming Does it really stack up?‘, 2010, The Economist, (1), , pp. 1 .

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