New ‘Skyfarm’ Concept Could Tackle Future Global Food Crisis

by onApril 17, 2016

With the population of Earth growing rapidly every year and more people moving to urban areas than ever, viable farming space will soon become a problem. By 2050 our population is expected to increase by nearly 3 billion, making for a total of 10 billion.

Farming the way we currently do takes up a lot of space, and to feed 3 billion additional people will take a lot of farm land. Some estimates say that the worlds farmland could cover a landmass the size of brazil by the year 2050.

Enter Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partnersan architecture firm out of London, England. As a response to the theme “Feed Our Planet” featured at the Milan Expo 2015, the firm created ‘Skyfarm’.

Skyfarm Could Solve Future Food Crisis

(Image: RSH-P)

The concept was designed to bring farmland to dense urban areas and places with insufficient land or soil quality. By using a multi level circular bamboo tower design, the ‘Skyfarm’ will optimize sun exposure to the soilless farm as well as harbor the growth of fish.

The multi-storey tensegrity structure (isolated components in compression delineated by prestressed tension members) is made of light bamboo to create a rigid circular frame and maximise sun exposure onto the farm. These towers support several layers of agricultural cultivation and an aquaponics system that enables the growth of crops and fish together in a re-circulating system; nutrients derived from fish waste are fed to the plants and the plants provide filters for the fish to thrive in. – RSH-P

The tower will have 5 distinct features/levels.

The ground level of the tower will be a space designed for a market or shop, encouraging people to come to the farm. This in turn keeps people educated and in touch with their food.

Above the market area will be a large tank allowing the farming of freshwater fish such as bass and barramundi.

Above the tank, in the middle of the structure, plants will be grown hydroponically in water, meaning so soil is necessary.

On top of the hydroponics system will be an aeroponic system. Plants here will be grown with minimal water, using only a mist.

At the top of the ‘Skyfarm’ will be water storage and wind turbines to power the farm.


(Image: RSH-P)

The tower will be scalable and adaptable to it’s environment as well. This will allow for great versatility when it comes to the placement of the farms. It will be able to exist in small community environments, or on a large scale for bustling metropolises. Able to be heated, the farms will be able to be placed in cold environments where farming year round/at all is not possible.

The hyperboloid form of the tower enables it to be easily scaled. A 10-metre version could be constructed in a school, or an 80-metre farm built in a larger urban area. Its geometry can also be adapted depending on the earth’s latitude and the amount of sunlight available. In cooler climates, a double skinned enclosure and heating could be added to create optimum growing conditions.


(Image: RSH-P)

While creating concepts to solve the issue of urban farming has been done by a few architects, the ‘Skyfarm’ really sounds like a great design if it’s truly thought out as as well as they’ve stated. The design has received numerous awards such as the sustainability prize at the Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects Awards just this week and also won at the World Architecture Festival 2014 being described as

“thorough, believable and beautiful”

Currently the costs of one of these towers is higher than standard industrial scale agriculture, but the unique ability to grow short life produce year round and close to market makes it a very attractive, and sustainable solution.

Here are some more sketches of the design:

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References: Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners – Dezeen

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