Vertical + Horizontal Farm Tower (Farming and Crop Distribution Tower) by Kevin Chu
2011 - 2012, Platinum A' Futuristic Design Award Winner
Locust Wings Structure, Japanese Transformer Robots, Articles on why farming is dying but a rebirth is necessary, Aeronautical Engineering, Next Generation Sustainable Energy Methods.
As global population increases and resources are unable to compensate for the insatiable appetite of the human race, the concept of the agricultural metropolis has to be developed to meet this demand. As we all know, more and more people are migrating to cities from the suburbs but the rising cost of logistics, commodity inflation as well as the increase demand for food consumption forces the birth of creating farmlands within the restrictive spaces of a city. This will not only grant city dwellers fresher agricultural products at a lower cost but can also increase green zones and improve surrounding environments. The Vertical Farm Concept was born of these criteria and it was a brilliant solution but I believe there needs to further inspiration in order to make this concept more educational and attractive to the present and future generations. To this day “farming” and the concept of the “farmer” is still viewed by the general public as a low paid and manual intensive labor. More and more youth born from the country side are discontinuing the farming profession in order to seek less physical and higher paid work in cities. I wanted to design a farming community that can truly embrace pioneering technology as well as educate the next generation to view farming as a “cool” profession that can deeply benefit the continuous expansion of the city. The building I started to contemplate does not merely just serve as a vertical farm structure but also an educational and experimental laboratory on agriculture, renewable energy as well as a social environment where farmers and local residents can “mingle” and learn from each other through behavioral science. All the residents in this place gets its own produce for free and the vicinity gathered crops can also be distributed around London and sold in a substantially lower market price in minimal amount of time from cultivation. The Vertical+Horizontal farm should manifest a true philosophy of the 21st century farming ideology and create a true social point of this new generation of metropolis agriculture to the world. Inspired the concept of the Sun Dial, Guilin & Yunnan (China) Step Farming method, Aeronautical Engineering as well as the Dragonfly Wing structure, the V+H farm serves as the world’s most technologically advance, fully self-sufficient and eco-friendly structure. All of the green energy technologies within the structure are of experimentation stage at present but I foresee them to replace our current archaic methods. This included Solar Helium Balloons, E.T.F.E Transparent Photovoltaic Skin, Laterally Mounted Wind Turbine as well as Plant Covered External Cladding System that absorbs surrounding CO2 admission of London. The main structure of the building are designed as residential, commercial, research and activity spaces and completely cladded with Perforated Titanium Tiles that allow for plant growth through its holes. Since the structure’s skin will eventually be covered with plants, the whole main building will change in texture and color according to the four seasons and one never has to worry about façade maintenance which leads to a much lower longer term cost and environmental sustainability. The windows of the central structure employs the latest generation of chromatic reflective glass which can control sunlight filtration by means of electrical molecular transformation. They also serve as a one-way mirror thus further reducing any need for curtains or shading devices. Farm fields are located at the ground level as well as each of the horizontal “wing” structure protruding from the building. Each of these “wings” has a 150m structural span and houses farmlands as well as seed research laboratories within its Monocoque structure. The insect like transparent wing canopies are made of E.T.F.E (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) skins with photovoltaic cells embedded within the material. Their function is to turn each of the wing farms into a greenhouse during the colder months of London as well as providing solar energy for the structure and controlling transparency levels within each farm compartment. The complete V+H farm will stand at 380 meters high with one of the tallest organic restaurant, sky lounge, conference hall and theater in the world. Each wing farm is able to rotate 360 degrees from the central axis in order to gain maximum exposure of the sunlight throughout the day while the underneath structure contains storage cocoons gathering crops from farmland above. These cocoons are constructed out of a volumetric telescopic structure and can increase in size according to internal stock volume with their stretchable outer skin made of recycled fabrics. The cocoons are actually robots that utilize V.T.O.L (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) propulsion rotary engine which are allocated above the collection structure. Once each cocoon is full they can be guided around London for crop distribution and can be controlled by G.P.S (Global Positioning Satellite) technology same as that found in automobiles. Each cocoon can recharge its electrical energy when it docks back at the main wing farm structure. The design of the protruded wing farm also helps to reduce the building’s footprint on surrounding areas and because each wing is constantly rotating around the main structure, intrusive shadow casting is reduced to a minimum. The ground level of the V+H farm contains further farming fields that function as introduction to the technique and physiology of farming for the casual visitor and beneath these field are residential quarters for V+H resident farmers. The entrance to the main structure is set back between the fields and access walkways are sliced in between forcing the visitor to pass through the farmers’ residence. This is created in order to maximize the interaction between farmers and visitors which through this social manifestation, a better acknowledgment of agriculture will be gained by the layman and hopefully provoke verbal and information promotion. The V+H farm is a dynamic and constantly changing entity in the heart of a buzz ling metropolis. It is an organism that changes, absorb, educate, transform through time and circumstances. I believe it shall become the essence of 21st century agriculture itself and its dynamism will hopefully provoke a new generation to embrace farming in a vastly more innovative and reacceptance attitude.
Design Challenges
This was one of the hardest competition my company, FABLAB has to undertake in such a short period of time. We had to come up with such a huge structure that needed to solve so many of our environmental issues while using technologies that has never been applied to architecture before. We also need to push our creative limits to the edge in order to think of forms and technical compositions which can predict the movement of technology for the next 50 years. The intense research and analysis was limited to no more than a month while the form of the building has to be utterly groundbreaking while also functional. The hardest part was to create a design that although quite far fetched, can be related to our current sustainable issues and possibly be realizable when the time comes.
Production Technology
Using aeronautical monocoque wing construction, the wing farm structure is made of lightweight aluminium allow ripcage structure with carbon composite cladding panels to save weight and reduce rotational compression stress. E.T.F.E (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) translucent skins are used for the wing's greenhouse canopy structure. The main tower is cladded with preforated aluminium panels that allows for external foliage growth. All the windows in the apartments quarters uses chromatic one way mirror acrylic glass (similar to that found in high performance sunglasses such as Oakley Jawbone series) to create solar shading and privacy system devoid the use of curtains or shading lovres.The ground floor garden uses Helium Solar Balloons to absorb solar power while creating one of the lightest sustainable energy shading structure in the world. Carbon composite wind turbine are mounted below each wing farm while the rest of the ground level farmland uses tradition pack soil technique to create the step farm formation. Below each farm are where farmers living quarters are. The rest of the compound utlize all natural and recyclable material cladding system. The crop distribution robots uses a telescopic coccoon structure which extends when it fills up. The external fabric are made recycled canvas cloth and it is controlled by G.P.S (Global Positioning Satellite) for crop distribution.
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