Towering Over the City, This ‘Farmscraper’ Will Produce 270 tons of Food from Hydroponics on 51-Stories
Combining a vertical farm and office space into a single 51-storey concept out of Chinese mythology, an Italian architect is completing the Shenzhen skyline with a stunning “farmscraper.”
With a façade that features a vertical hydroponic farm extending the entire height of the building, the Jian Mu Tower was designed for a leading Chinese supermarket to be a place where tenants can grow, sell, buy, or consume produce in the same place they work.
Located in the south Chinese city of Shenzhen, the Turin-based Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled plans to build a 650-foot (218-meter) tower in which 100,000 square feet (10,000 sq. meter) of the glass exterior is dedicated to producing food—590,000 pounds of it per year, which would also contain around a million square feet for office space, a supermarket, gardens, and food court.
Hydroponic gardening involves using a nutrient rich water vapor rather than soil, and allows plants to be grown in tubes stacked vertically.
Working with ZERO, an Italian-based company that specializes in innovative approaches to agriculture, Jian Mu’s farm is optimized to produce everything from salad greens to fruits to aromatic herbs, while remaining efficient and sustainable.
An AI agronomist would oversee most of the hydroponic systems, regulating water and nutrients, planning planting and harvest cycles, and other matters.
The building, designed as the new headquarters of supermarket chain Wumart, where the entire production chain can be “showcased in a clean, and technologically exciting way,” was named and designed after a mythical tree that separated heaven from earth in Chinese folklore.
According to traditional belief, the project page explains, heaven is round while the Earth is square. The skyscraper echoes this principle with its rectangular base that gradually morphs into a tubular form as it rises.
“The vertical hydroponic farm embraces the notion of zero food miles in the most comprehensive sense,” Carlo Ratti told Dezeen. “Crops cultivated in the tower are sold and even eaten in the same location, which helps us conserve a great deal of energy in food distribution.”
The sun will help the crops to grow, which in turn will shade the interior offices from the sun, reducing the air conditioning load, while the moist sub-tropical China air would aid in supplying moisture to the plants.
“Small-scale urban farming is happening in cities all over the world – from Paris to New York to Singapore. Jian Mu Tower, however, takes it to the next level,” writes Ratti, who is also a professor at MIT.
“Such approach has the potential to play a major role in the design of future cities, as it engages one of today’s most pressing architectural challenges: How to integrate the natural world into building design.”