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Constructing the World’s Sustainable Urban Farms and Green Spaces

May 28, 2014 | 3 min read

With industrialization and urban sprawl on the rise, more and more cities are searching for ways to maximize green space andmake urban jungles feel more like actual jungles. Urban farming is simply the process of growing and producing food in a heavily populated city region, but unlike traditional agriculture, you don’t have to have a large tract of land to build one. However, new architectural designs for vertical farms and rooftop greenhouses have captured the imagination of engineers across the world.

Municipalities are adopting urban agriculture as a way to transform vacant lots into productive assets. By employing high-tech features like automated conveyance systems, hydroponics, and supplemental lighting,the output of herbs, fruits, and vegetables greatlyincreases. Some engineers are expanding urban agriculture’s potential even further by moving high-tech growing systems from the rooftops into the public spaces of buildings. “You eliminate the enormous pollution from agricultural runoff and pesticides, monoculturing of ecosystems, and water-usage problems, and allow land to return to nature, which restores habitats and sequesters carbon,” said Gregory Kiss, principal at Brooklyn-based architecture firm Kiss & Cathcart. “It is a radical view of how the food system ought to be.”

These are a few of the most innovative urban farms and green spaces built around the world.

Gardens by the Bay – Singapore

This futuristic park and garden is built entirely upon 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore. In a governmental effort to enhance green space and improve the quality of city life, 170 firms from 24 countries entered an international competition to design the three waterfront gardens. The construction project cost over one billion dollars, and gardens draw millions of visitors each year.

Public Farm 1 – Queens, New York

Entirely powered by solar energy, this urban farm has a chicken coop, a juicing station, a rainwater collection system, a children’s play space, and even a cell phone charging area. Public Farm 1 is the design of New York City-based WORK Architecture Company and plays host to seasonal outdoor social events and weekly farmers markets.

Athenaeum Hotel – London

Located right in downtown London, the Athenaeum Hotel has an eight-story vertical garden full of diverse plant, flower, insect, and bird habitats. A research scientist named Patrick Blanc designed London’s “living wall,” and he’s created similar vertical gardens in Bangkok, Paris, New York, and Tokyo.

ACROS Building – Fukuoka, Japan

Opened in 1995, the ACROS Building, is international center for cultural and information exchange located in downtown Fukuoka City, Japan.Emilio Ambasz & Associates designed this building, which grows 35,000 plants on 15 stepped terraces, thereby capturing rainwater runoff and supporting the lives of beneficial insects and birds. By finding a compromise between the developer’s desire for a profitable site and the public’s demand for green space, ACROS’ interior features a museum, theater, conference rooms, and underground levels of parking and retail space.

Photo credit: Allie Caulfield via WikiMedia Commons; Jennifer Morrow via Flickr

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