Hi! i'm just an ordinary christian dude who has passion in Architecture, Environmental sustainability, and Travelling Photography. Also hitting on events especially Conferences and having personal stands and philosophy in this blog. Currently 2nd year Bachelor in Architecture USM Penang, Malaysia. All opinions here are just 2 sens of mine and not in any offensive means. You could follow me at Facebook or Twitter =) Welcome and have a nice day ahead! God Bless.

Monday, January 18, 2010

[20/1] Vertical Farming? The Future Architecture Factor!

Hi World!

Again, i have found out a nice reason why i shouldn't head back to my room that often, mainly because aside of Cubicles above Subaidah mamak, I have spotted HBP Housing Building Planning's Resource Center is quite a hang out spot for many students and pretty comfortable there! Got nice Wifi, plugs, Air Cond, Chess Set, nice Sofas... and most important of all, Architecture Malaysia Magazine! And yes can bump into more lecturers there =)

And the most interesting factor is that there are Discovery Channel playing throughout the office hours! And recently i saw this series about Vertical Farming, (though i didn't put my butt down for one hour to see everything) Certainly this is potential to be the hot issue after a couple of years!

So Vertical Farming?
Vertical Farming is a proposed agricultural techniques as well as being assisted by Architecture Design to have large scale agriculture in Urban High Rises, or we call it the term "farmscrapers" SSounds nicer right? Imagine KL skyline soon will light in green during night time, and all those windmills by the top of the buildings instead of Helicopter Pads?

What's the Intention? History?
Obviously along with all those Global Warming and debate over deteriorating Environment Pollution, Vertical Farming would definitely sound a Friendly approach (though it is not evidently proved yet) But how did the idea come about it is by a professor of Environment Health Sciences and MicroBiology at Columbia University in New York, he gave the assignment to his class to find a way to feed 50,000 Manhattanites using 13 acres of useable rooftop Gardens. But disappointingly, they calculated that only 2 percent of the 50,000 people would be fed, then Despommier thoughtlessly suggested of growing plants indoor, vertically. And by 2001, the first outline of vertical farm was introduced.

Then now we talk about a future opportunity to impact the nation's economy as well as social politics greatly, what about the Advantages? and also Disadvantage?

1) Preparation for The Future
It's pretty obvious. Estimated that by the year of 2050, Close to 80% of the world's population will live in urban areas and the total population of the world will increase by 3 Billion people. By this rate, Farm land is not an option already because will severe damage to the earth. Vertical Farm will definitely help to eliminate the need to create additional farmland, they will used recycling techniques rather than harming the earth by traditional farming.

2) Increased Crop Production
Using Vertical Farming meaning we can alternate the soil's composition, as well as sunlight, basically customizing everything from top to bottom to have the variety of crops you want. All season farming multiplies the productivity of the farmed surface by a factor of 4 to 6.

3) Transportation Free
With this concept, we believe that the crops would be sold in the same infrastructure they are grown. Resulting in far less spoilages and infestations than conventional farming encounters.

4) Protection from weather related problems.
Crops grown in traditional outdoor farming suffer from all sorts of extreme meteorological events such as undesirable amount of rainfall, temperature, earthquakes, anything that could deteriorate the production of the crop. Any major change in the climate could vanish up the crop and eventually not only causing the risk of extinction as well as major impact on economy and also leading to catastrophic demonstration. With this, Vertical Farming could ensure the safely of the crop and the expected constant out put of crops.

5) Conservation of Resources.
Vertical Farms could effectively convert waste water and polluted air into clean, and usable resources back for the same purpose as well as collection of rainwater, that could use it to water the crops instead of causing flashfloods in the city. Also, pure oxygen produced by photosynthesis of the crop can be released into the environment adding to the improvement of ar quality surrounding the Vertical Farm. Everything here is centralized, making it easier to manage.

6) Urban Growth
Vertical Farming enables cities to expand while remaining self sufficient, the city wouldn't need to worry about farm supply from the sub urban areas. The industry of vertical farming will provide employment to these expanding cities, this may help to displace the unemployment created by the dismantling of traditional farms. However, it is unlikely that traditional farms will become obsolete, some crops are not suitable for vertical farming.

7) Energy Production
There are pros and cons here. Pros would be methane digesters could be built on site to transform the organic waste generated at the farm into biogas, this could be burned to generate electricity that can either be consumed at the farm or added to the grid, all in all, it means the building could be fully independent, from resources, to food, to energy. However, no concrete evidence that such building could eventually save electricity and power because artificial sunlight requires a lot of energy as well.

8) Lesser new species discovery/mutation?
With all the new crops and animals being taken care under a very systematic environment, variations are going to be rare, animals and plants genetically slowly evolve to be another stronger species under harsh condition, with the existence of vertical tower, everything is suit according to the plant's character and thus not allowing greater variations of discovery.

9) Green Architecture
Vertical Farming could directly contribute to the sense of GBI Green Building Index, allowing people the role of crops and the benefits from them to help to indicate and elevate the GBI value once again. Combined with the right technology and design of Architecture, Vertical Farming is certainly to be an art to be appreciated because it takes good ventilation and sunlight distribution Designed Structures by Architecture to work well. Structures with a lot of Cantilevers as well as Glass Panels would be expected.Just like the one below.

So are we Ready? Is Malaysia Ready?

Current policies state that Malaysia Government plan has still plenty reserve land area to develop traditional Farming. Also with the lack of technology as well as right investments and lack of knowledge for Green Building and also the mindset of Developer, we simply do not have the need or urgency or assets to do something like Vertical Farming. Let's just hope we are ready when the world is really telling us to be ready then =)

Singapore would definitely better off thinking about this option because they are largely depending on imports of crops as well as cattles, it is estimated by 2012 they do not have any other reserve lands for development, the area above jurong west is simply for water catchment area and almost the whole Island of Singapore is developed. Perhaps this is their Government's Plan quite soon? we don't know =)