With agricultural land being snapped up for urban developments, is high-rise vertical farming becoming a viable option for China?
This 187.5m-high structure by Javier Ponce Architects (JAPA) has been awarded a Citation in the FuturArc Prize 2013. The concept addresses issues of land use in China and suggests a series of lightweight, flexible structures for vertical farming, keeping China at the forefront of the agricultural industry.
JAPA explains the need for the system thus: “Although China’s agricultural output is the largest in the world, only about 15% of its total land area can be cultivated. China’s arable land, which represents 10% of the total arable land in the world, supports over 20% of the world’s population. Of this approximately 1.4 million square kilometers of arable land, only about 1.2% (116,580 square kilometers) permanently supports crops and 525,800 square kilometers are irrigated.”
The solution, the practice suggests, may lie in its Dynamic Vertical Networks scheme. Located on a prime site in close proximity to Kowloon-Hong Kong for low food distribution costs (both environmental and financial) the scheme involves the construction of vertical agricultural towers inspired by China’s rice farming history.
Designs demonstrate shifting floorplates and lightweight structures with recycled metallic materials inspired by traditional shifting terrace concepts in Chinese rice farming. The crops would be grown using hydroponics creating a soil-free environment with the plantlife benefitting from high levels of natural sunlight from the unobstructed site. Aside from the core farming sections, the design also provides areas for research laboratories and hubs dedicated to pushing the agricultural industry forward.
Eight lifts run throughout the system and photovoltaic glass plays a key role in the design. Agriculture is not confined to the encircling rings but may also stretch across the structure from a horizontal cable system which rotates with the main ring structure.