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Urban Vertical Farming Building Elements And Designs

With the growing limited numbers of land, more scientists are thinking about implementing and constructing urban vertical farming building to grow foods. Vertical farming itself is a concept where foods can be produced in the (vertical) stacked layers, inclined surfaces, or integrated in other constructions (like used shipping container, used warehouse, or skyscraper) with the minimum water, soil, and even sunray. Naturally, to have such a successful outcome, it takes a special construction or building to accommodate the farming system. And with this method, it is possible to grow food in the city within the controlled environment of the urban (vertical) farm building.

The Technology and the Concept

Vertical farming is possible when indoor farming technique is used. In most cases, it uses hydroponics system within CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) technology. It means that many of the environmental factors are controllable. The facilities of urban vertical farming building use environmental control (temperature, humidity, gases, etc), light artificial control, and also fertigation. In some cases, the facilities use the same techniques as the greenhouses, such as reflectors, artificial lighting (by using LED), and the zero usage of pesticides or herbicides. 

The Possible Constructions

Now that we already know about the basic concept of vertical farming and the possibility to grow foods in the urban setting, let’s dwell into the possible options of construction and design. For a starter, it is possible nowadays to use tall buildings for the farming. With the vertical stacked idea, growing plants would be made easier and more efficient. Some companies have even implemented this idea with indoor farming idea – even developing it to a bigger idea of a creating a building with its own food source for the occupants.

Urban Vertical Farming in Singapore Changi Airport

Growing foods on rooftops is also possible, especially in the urban setting. When people grow the foods on terraces and rooftops, they are basically making use of the available space for bigger solar exposure. And with the vertical construction, providing the food source would be possible and sufficient.

See also: What challenges does indoor farming face?

The common construction for the urban vertical farming building is to include its own nutrient and watering monitoring system. If there are different floors or levels, then each level should have its own (watering and nutrient) monitoring system.  Each plant has its own sensor to track down the types of nutrients being absorbed as well as how much it is. In the advanced system, each plant has a DNA chip technology to monitor the plant diseases. The chip will sample the air to detect plant pathogen’s presence. Moreover, the gas chromatograph would provide an information the right time to pick the plant up as well as analyzing the flavenoids of each plant.

Different Construction Designs

It is a good thing that there are possible designs for the building, such as:
  • Mixed-use skyscraper. Such a design is used to maximize climate control – usually aimed for community or personal use.
  • Stackable (recycled) shipping containers. The containers act as the modular environment growing chambers that are designed in stacks. The stacking action would deliver higher density field per square foot. 
  • Abandoned mine shaft. It is more like a deep farming instead of the vertical farming. It doesn’t need any urban vertical farming building but it only makes use of the abandoned mine that isn’t far from the groundwater. 
By learning from urban vertical farming building designs above,  you get more ideas how to design vertical farming buildings whether for self-sufficient or business. It seems that a vertical farming design is more complicated than the ordinary methods, but don't worry - you can discuss about the concepts of artificial lighting and other facilities with farm architect.