Jump to content

    Recommended Posts

    The New York Times


    July 15, 2008

    Country, the City Version:



    What if “eating local” in Shanghai or New York meant getting your fresh produce from five blocks away? And what if skyscrapers grew off the grid, as verdant, self-sustaining towers where city slickers cultivated their own food?




    Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health at Columbia University, hopes to make these zucchini-in-the-sky visions a reality. Dr. Despommier’s pet project is the “vertical farm,” a concept he created in 1999 with graduate students in his class on medical ecology, the study of how the environment and human health interact.




    The idea, which has captured the imagination of several architects in the United States and Europe in the past several years, just caught the eye of another big city dreamer: Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president.


    When Mr. Stringer heard about the concept in June, he said he immediately pictured a “food farm” addition to the New York City skyline. “Obviously we don’t have vast amounts of vacant land,” he said in a phone interview. “But the sky is the limit in Manhattan.” Mr. Stringer’s office is “sketching out what it would take to pilot a vertical farm,” and plans to pitch a feasibility study to the mayor’s office within the next couple of months, he said.


    “I think we can really do this,” he added. “We could get the funding.”


    Dr. Despommier estimates that it would cost $20 million to $30 million to make a prototype of a vertical farm, but hundreds of millions to build one of the 30-story towers that he suggests could feed 50,000 people. “I’m viewed as kind of an outlier because it’s kind of a crazy idea,” Dr. Despommier, 68, said with a chuckle. “You’d think these are mythological creatures.”










    Dr. Despommier, whose name in French means “of the apple trees,” has been spreading the seeds of his radical idea in lectures and through his Web site. He says his ideas are supported by hydroponic vegetable research done by NASA and are made more feasible by the potential to use sun, wind and wastewater as energy sources. Several observers have said Dr. Despommier’s sky-high dreams need to be brought down to earth.


    “Why does it have to be 30 stories?” said Jerry Kaufman, professor emeritus of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Why can’t it be six stories? There’s some exciting potential in the concept, but I think he overstates what can be done.”


    Armando Carbonell, chairman of the department of planning and urban form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass., called the idea “very provocative.” But it requires a rigorous economic analysis, he added. “Would a tomato in lower Manhattan be able to outbid an investment banker for space in a high-rise? My bet is that the investment banker will pay more.”


    Mr. Carbonell questions if a vertical farm could deliver the energy savings its supporters promise. “There’s embodied energy in the concrete and steel and in construction,” he said, adding that the price of land in the city would still outweigh any savings from not having to transport food from afar. “I believe that this general relationship is going to hold, even as transportation costs go up and carbon costs get incorporated into the economic system.”


    Some criticism is quite helpful. Stephen Colbert jokingly asserted that vertical farming was elitist when Dr. Despommier appeared in June on “The Colbert Report,” a visit that led to a jump in hits to the project’s Web site from an average of 400 daily to 400,000 the day after the show. Dr. Despommier agrees that more research is needed, and calls the energy calculations his students made for the farms, which would rely solely on alternative energy, “a little bit too optimistic.” He added, “I’m a biologist swimming in very deep water right now.”


    “If I were to set myself as a certifier of vertical farms, I would begin with security,” he said. “How do you keep insects and bacteria from invading your crops?” He says growing food in climate-controlled skyscrapers would also protect against hail and other weather-related hazards, ensuring a higher quality food supply for a city, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.





    Architects’ renderings of vertical farms — hybrids of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Biosphere 2 with SimCity appeal — seem to be stirring interest. “It also has to be stunning in terms of the architecture, because it needs to work in terms of social marketing,” Dr. Despommier said. “You want people to say, ‘I want that in my backyard.’ ”


    Augustin Rosenstiehl, a French architect who worked with Dr. Despommier to design a template “living tower,” said he thought that any vertical farm proposal needed to be adapted to a specific place. Mr. Rosenstiehl, principal architect for Atelier SOA in Paris, said: “We cannot do a project without knowing where and why and what we are going to cultivate. For example, in Paris, if you grow some wheat, it’s stupid because we have big fields all around the city and lots of wheat and it’s good wheat. There’s no reason to build towers that are very expensive.”


    Despite its potential problems, the idea of bringing food closer to the city is gaining traction among pragmatists and dreamers alike. A smaller-scale design of a vertical farm for downtown Seattle won a regional green building contest in 2007 and has piqued the interest of officials in Portland, Ore. The building, a Center for Urban Agriculture designed by architects at Mithun, would supply about a third of the food needed for the 400 people who would live there.


    In June at P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center in Queens, a husband-wife architect team built a solar-powered outdoor farm out of stacked rows of cardboard tube planters — one that would not meet Dr. Despommier’s security requirements — with chicken coops for egg collection and an array of fruits and vegetables.


    For Dr. Despommier, the high-rise version is on the horizon. “It’s very idealistic and ivory tower and all of that,” he said. “But there’s a real desire to make this happen.”



    Peut-être pour Dubai en premier? Et le silo no.5, un de ses jours?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    J'ai de la misère à comprendre comment un arbre de 10-12 étages peut être bien enraciné à plusieurs étages du sol ( les 2 dernières illustrations) Ça prend beaucoup de place les racines de tels arbres !

    Pour des plants de tomates etc... Ok. Mais des arbres comme ça ! :confused:


    Sinon c'est intéressant.


    Chérie, je vais aller cueuillir des fraises au 19e étage.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    J'ai de la misère à comprendre comment un arbre de 10-12 étages peut être bien enraciné à plusieurs étages du sol ( les 2 dernières illustrations) Ça prend beaucoup de place les racines de tels arbres !

    Pour des plants de tomates etc... Ok. Mais des arbres comme ça ! :confused:


    Les conifères des montagnes et zones boréales (j'assume que c'est ça sur les illustrations) ont des racines plutôt horizontales. Ça leur permet de s'adapter à ces environnements où la couche de terre fertile est très mince.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    C'est beau sur papier mais c'est complètement irréaliste.

    Ça va demander des quantités énormes d'eau, beaucoup plus que l'agriculture traditionnelle.

    Au Québec, la majorité des terres ne sont pas irriguées car nos précipitations sont très importantes naturellement.


    Les quantités d'énergie en hiver seront aussi énormes.


    De plus, l'air des villes est souvent très contaminé. Mangeriez-vous des légumes cultivés près d'une autoroute ?

    Dans ce cas il faudrait filtrer l'air, $$$$, énergie + filtres.


    On dirait le rêve de quelqu'un qui a trop joué à Simcity.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Having more natural vegetation in the city would actually help clean the air. Also, there would be fewer delivery trucks delivering produce to stores, and people wouldn't have to drive out of town to get fresh produce. Of course, there would still be a considerable amount of air pollution, but over time people will change their habits, waste a lot less food (because it will be so expensive) and consume less meat (also because of cost and quality issues). I'd like to see this kind of project go up in a modern city where the citizens are forward-looking, open-minded, and society-driven (probably somewhere in Europe or Asia).

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Est-ce que cacher la montagne avec de la végétation ça compte? :D



    :rotfl: :rotfl:



    Celà dit, le concept semble intéressant. Du moins, si c'est réalisable.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    • 2 weeks later...


    This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

    • Create New...