6 urban farms feeding the world

October 26, 2017 by  
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A bustling city is the last place you’d ever expect to find a farm. But urban agriculture is alive and well, providing city dwellers with local, sustainable food.  These days, you can urban farms  inside warehouses, on top of buildings, and even on the tiniest plots of land. If you are looking to grow food in your city, take a look at these six different urban farming projects we’ve rounded up to highlight various creative antidotes to the pressing issue that is global food security . Detroit agrihood feeds 2,000 households for free The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative started a three-acre agrihood in Detroit to bring local, fresh produce to the neighborhood. The agrihood includes a two-acre garden, children’s sensory garden, 200-tree fruit orchard, and a Community Resource Center in the works. Nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity are two obstacles Detroit residents face, and the agrihood provides a community-friendly solution offering free produce to around 2,000 households. Related: Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of sustainable agriculture Rooftop farms in Gaza grow food where resources are scarce Urban farming initiatives don’t need to be massive to make a difference. The almost two-million population of Palestine’s Gaza Strip doesn’t have much land to farm, so in 2010 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization introduced the concept of rooftop farming on a large scale by giving 200 homes equipment for aquaponic growing systems. Other Palestinians have built garden beds with recycled plastic and wood, planted with seeds from nearby farmers. Ahmad Saleh, a former professor and community organizer, said rooftop gardens empower people and help create healthier populations. Indianapolis warehouse farm is 100 percent powered by renewable energy Old warehouses are being transformed into farms in some areas of the world, like at Farm 360 in Indianapolis , Indiana. The farm’s hydroponic systems are completely powered by clean energy, and the indoor farm produces fresh, local food year-round. The nearby neighborhood had struggled with poverty and unemployment, and one of Farm 360’s goals was to boost economic growth by providing jobs close enough to where employees live for them to walk or bike to work. Farm on Tel Aviv mall roof produces 10,000 heads of greens every month Israel’s oldest mall, Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv , received a burst of life with the Green in the City rooftop farm. There’s no dirt necessary for the hydroponic systems able to churn out 10,000 heads of greens a month, inside two greenhouses boasting around 8,073 square feet of space. All of the produce is sold, largely to local homes and restaurants through online orders delivered by bicycle. The Green in the City garden was launched by hydroponics company LivinGreen and the sustainability department of Dizengoff Center to raise awareness of the food crisis and offer affordable local produce. World’s largest rooftop farm in Chicago can grow 10 million crops annually Chicago , Illinois is home to the world’s biggest rooftop garden after Brooklyn-based agriculture company Gotham Greens expanded out of New York to start the 75,000-square-foot garden on top of a Method Products manufacturing plant. William McDonough + Partners and Heitman Architects designed the project, which grows 10 million pesticide-free herbs and greens every year, all year round, inside a greenhouse facility powered by renewable energy . Massive Shanghai urban farm to feed nearly 24 million people Shanghai , China is home to over 24 million people, and a 100-hectare urban farm planned for the city could feed nearly all of them. Architecture firm Sasaki is behind the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, which is designed to weave vertical farms among towers. Hydroponic and aquaponic methods, floating greenhouses, and algae farms are all part of the design. Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Facebook , Mohamed Hajjar , Esther Boston , © Lucy Wang , Gotham Greens, and ArchDaily

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6 urban farms feeding the world

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

Schmidt Hammer Lassen adds modern Scandinavian design to Detroit

August 25, 2017 by  
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Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s first project in the U.S. will dramatically modernize the look of downtown Detroit . Expected to break ground in early 2018, the Monroe Block project is a mixed-use development with shimmering glass towers. The cluster of five buildings will feature pedestrian friendly design with plenty of greenery inside and out. Located next to Detroit’s historic theater district, the Monroe Block will comprise 810,000 square feet of office space , 170,000 square feet of retail, 482 apartments, and 48,000 square feet of public plazas and green space. Schmidt Hammer Lassen is working alongside local architects Neumann Smith and engineering firm Buro Happold. Developer Bedrock Detroit commissioned the project alongside a mixed-use development designed by SHoP Architects that includes Detroit’s tallest tower and will replace the historic Hudson’s department store. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveils competition-winning design for the Shanghai Library “Our Scandinavian heritage has a strong influence on the way we approach city building on this scale,” said Schmidt Hammer Lassen senior partner Kristian Ahlmark according to Dezeen . “We always try to think urbanism, city space and the built environment in that order. In Detroit, we found many existing spaces that held a great amount of urban qualities, but laid undefined due to the vast amount of open space. Our project is very much about stitching together and re-establishing some of the indisputable qualities of the original masterplan.” The Monroe Block is expected for completion in early 2022. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Via Dezeen

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True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

August 23, 2017 by  
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A number of grassroots initiatives and organizations are revitalizing Detroit as a testing ground for urban innovation. Edwin Chan and his Los Angeles–based design practice EC3 recognized the potential of the city’s underutilized community spaces and recently completed True North Detroit , a half-acre live-work community made from lightweight prefabricated Quonset huts. This small complex of nine vaulted buildings offers affordable housing for Detroit’s growing creative population. Located in the Core City neighborhood, about two and a half miles northwest of downtown, the community breathes new life into an area that consists mostly of vacant lots. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free “The majority of Detroit’s housing stock is either out of date or completely dilapidated,” Edwin Chan said. “Rather than being determined by ‘market demands,’ True North’s design is an inclusive and aspirational vision to create a new typology of affordable housing and to promote alternative, creative lifestyles in one of the world’s most iconic cities.” Related: These tiny houses help minimum wage workers become homeowners in Detroit The architects modified the original shape of the Quonset huts to create more elongated, higher spaces ideal for a variety of activities. The center island houses the kitchens, bathrooms, and utilities. This space is built from durable polycarbonate , while the rest of the structure has a more transparent envelope that allows natural light into the interior. Affordable materials and building methods were used in the construction of the apartments, which range from 475 to 1,600 square feet. + Edwin Chan + True North Detroit Via Archpaper

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True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

People are using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

August 23, 2017 by  
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Why spend thousands of dollars on a Tesla Powerwall when you could build your own – for a fraction of the cost? This is a question many alternative energy enthusiasts have asked, and it is ultimately what has led hundreds of people to develop their own versions using recycled laptop batteries. Now that plans for DIY Powerwalls are being shared for free online, several people have created rigs capable of storing far more energy than the Tesla version. On Facebook , YouTube and in forums , people are learning how to safely create their own DIY versions that cost much less than a Tesla Powerwall. One of the most popular powerwall builders is Jehu Garcia . He told Vice, “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful.” Joe Williams , another DIY powerwall enthusiast, added ”The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring.” There are several DIY versions capable of storing more energy than Tesla’s Powerwall. On the French forum  Diypowerwalls.com , user Glubux said his powerwall can store 28 kWh of energy. “I run all the house with it, in fact I even bought an electric oven and induction cooking plate to use the extra energy during summer,” they said. Australian YouTuber Peter Matthews claims he has created a gigantic battery that can store 40 kWh of energy. Reportedly, it harvests power from over 40 solar panels on Matthews’ roof and stores nearly enough power for his home’s electricity needs. “The only things I don’t run are the big air conditioners and the water heating system,” he said. The alternative energy aficionado created DIYpowerwalls as well as the most popular powerwall Facebook group . Related: Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings Most of the powerwall hobbyists recommend using 18650 lithium-ion batteries for their projects. The batteries are usually encased in a colorful plastic and can be found inside electronics, such as laptops. If sourced online or from a computer store, the batteries will cost more than $5 a piece. If obtained second-hand, from old Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG laptops, it’s possible to save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on the project. Of course, one might meet challenges collecting the batteries , as tech companies frown upon their creative repurposing. A positive effect of the DIY powerwall trend is that it reduces waste . According to Carl E. Smith, the CEO and president of  Call2Recycle , approximately 95 percent of consumer batteries which are sold in the US are not recycled and are ultimately thrown away. ”Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said. Though it can be time-consuming to source the used batteries, it’s a worthwhile investment according to DIY powerwall enthusiasts. And, if one carefully follows instructions when building their own version (such as those that follow), the risk of burning down one’s house is minimized. Ultimately, there is a risk associated with creating your own energy storage device, but the trend can’t be ignored as it grows in popularity. Via Motherboard Vice Images via  Daniel Römer ,  Jehu Garcia ,  Glubux

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Detroit debuts brand new 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza

June 14, 2017 by  
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Detroit , Michigan is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians . But the city is taking one step to overcome that with the recent opening of a new plaza by the iconic Spirit of Detroit statue. The 20,000 square foot civic square offers space for live performances and art displays, and will host food trucks . The Spirit of Detroit Plaza takes over one block of Woodward Avenue between Jefferson Avenue and Larned Street in front of the statue, which has adorned the area since 1958. The space boasts tables and chairs, colorful paintings on the sidewalk, lights, and planters. It will go through a 90-day trial this summer to see how pedestrians and traffic respond to the newly-created area. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement, “Every world-class city has a central plaza where people can gather and celebrate its civic history, and in front of the Spirit of Detroit is the perfect place for all Detroiters to have the opportunity. We are committed to a Detroit that’s open and accessible to all and this new plaza has been envisioned to celebrate all of the diversities that come together to make us a great city.” Detroit said the new plaza offers “a more direct pedestrian link between Downtown and the Detroit Waterfront.” Vehicles will be redirected onto other nearby streets. The city also said the plaza’s presence could help slash the potential for crashes. The plaza helps simplify an intersection and that fact along with adjusted area traffic signals could even reduce delays on Jefferson Avenue. If the trial goes well, city agencies and the mayor aim to make the plaza permanent. City Planning Director Maurice Cox described the Spirit of Detroit Plaza as a “key piece in making a more vibrant, walkable, diverse downtown.” He appears to have high hopes for the plaza, saying in a statement, “By simplifying the downtown grid and consolidating traffic flow, we are creating a more inviting street and safer pedestrian crossings. And of course, if something changes or the design doesn’t work as well as we expect, we can adjust it or even restore its original design. We expect this will reset expectations for what is possible on neighborhood streets across the city.” Via Curbed Detroit and the City of Detroit Images via Janette Sadik-Khan on Twitter , City of Detroit , and City of Detroit on Twitter

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Verdant Detroit: Can ‘agrihoods’ revitalize urban centers?

February 28, 2017 by  
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A two-acre farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood offers free food, green space, and hope to the community.

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Nissan seeks zero emissions and zero fatalities with snazzy new Vmotion 2.0

January 11, 2017 by  
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The automotive industry is on fire with several new concepts unveiled this week at the Detroit Auto Show . Joining Chevy, Volkswagen, and others with progressive new designs, Nissan unveiled the new Vmotion 2.0 concept, which is not only a preview of Nissan’s future design language, but also a look at the autonomous Intelligent Mobility technology the company is pioneering. The Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept features Nissan Intelligent Driving, one of three core elements of Nissan Intelligent Mobility – Nissan’s roadmap to achieve zero emissions and zero fatalities. Nissan Intelligent Driving helps provide a safer driving experience through technology such as ProPILOT, which is envisioned to ultimately allow the vehicle to drive in autonomous mode – not just on the highway and in heavy traffic conditions, but also on urban roads with intersections. Related: The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway The overall design of the Vmotion 2.0 concept is an evolution of the design that is currently used on many of Nissan’s models, like the Maxima. While it has been reworked with crisper lines, what we’re more interested in is how the design incorporates unique details that are connected to the autonomous self driving technology . For example, the lighting around the front Nissan emblem and rear diffuser glow to indicate when the vehicle is in the autonomous ProPILOT mode. We won’t have to wait too long for the ProPILOT system to be offered in a production vehicle, since an early form of the technology has already been confirmed for the next-generation Nissan Leaf . + Nissan All images @ Nissan

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Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater gets a modern take with shipping containers

September 29, 2016 by  
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The structure is true to the original Globe Theater design, but instead of wood, it is enveloped in industrial mesh that filters daylight and allows the building to come alive at night. Project leader, architect Nicholas Leahy of Perkins Eastman, and structural engineer Michael Ludvik already collaborated on the London Globe project in the 1980s, before teaming up again to revamp Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. The New York branch of Arup worked on the environmental performance studies for the theater. Related: Gorgeous LEED Gold-designed Chicago theater recycles 98% of the former building materials While steel sheets are not the common material used for building performance spaces , the designers discovered that the corrugation of the shipping containers has a great effect on the acoustic performance of the material. The containers were modified, cut and stacked on top of each other. Related: MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY’s ultralight informal amphitheater in France looks like an opening chrysalis Among the main influences for the design were Sex Pistols and King Lear, as Vail mentioned in a TEDx Talk. This combination of classical theater and pop culture is reflected in the design, which is expected to be built in Detroit. It will act as a venue for a variety of performances. It is intended to become mobile and travel across the country. + Perkins Eastman + mludvik consulting engineers + Arup Via Archdaily

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Detroit nonprofit seeks crowdfunding for new East Side community garden

August 11, 2016 by  
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Community gardens have been popping up all over Detroit in recent years, as local residents work cooperatively to reinvigorate their struggling city. A new project planned for the city’s east side will take the trend a step further. In a partnership between a local nonprofit, two state government agencies, and the community at large, a nearly abandoned plot will be transformed into a community herb and vegetable garden with an adjacent building for community events and classes. True to form, the project can’t take off without healthy community support, and a crowdfunding campaign is underway to raise half of the money needed to build the much-needed resource. Wolverine Human Services is the nonprofit organizing the project for the Jefferson-Mack neighborhood of east Detroit, near its addiction recovery facility Wolverine Center and the John S. Vitale Community Center. The East Side Community Garden and Farmers Market’s crowdfunding campaign , launched on Patronicity on July 25, aims to raise $50,000. If that goal is met, two state agencies (Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority) will double the funds through their Public Spaces, Community Places grant match program for a total project budget of $100,000. In a neighborhood on the brink of blight, the project seeks to add a community garden and training facility where residents can tend crops, learn about sustainability and farming, and build strong relationships with their neighbors. Related: Detroit’s largest urban farm to grow 60 acres of fresh produce The garden will include a series of 4-foot by 8-foot raised beds, with paved pathways that meet ADA Accessibility regulations so that all Detroit residents will be welcome and able to participate in growing their own herbs and vegetables. The site will also be home to a mixed-use building, which will host farmers’ markets, retail events, a classroom, and act as storage for agricultural equipment. Wolverine promises the center will be a safe place for residents to work and learn, with abundant lighting and security. Crowdfunding will continue until September 22, 2016. At the time of this report, the campaign has raised more than half of its $50,000 goal. + Support Detroit’s East Side Community Garden and Farmers Market Via Crain’s Images via Wolverine Human Services

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