Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse

December 23, 2019 by  
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In the historic center of Oberhausen, Berlin-based architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi has created a job center topped with a greenhouse in an unprecedented example of “building-integrated agriculture” in Germany. Named Altmarktgarten Oberhausen, the mixed-use facility symbolizes old and new: the brick-and-steel material palette references the area’s historic architecture, while the greenhouse serves as a place for innovative urban farming research. For a reduced environmental footprint, the architects installed systems for recycling rainwater, gray water and waste heat from the building operations. Created in collaboration with landscape architects atelier le balto and awarded the winner in a 2016 architecture competition, the mixed-use facility was constructed on the site of an old market hall at Oberhausen’s Altmarkt. The first five stories of the building function as a job center, while the top floor and rooftop greenhouse are used by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT). An interior courtyard with a vertical garden helps visually connect the sawtooth-roofed greenhouse with the brick building below. The vertical garden — which comprises hardy climbing plants, like the crimson glory vine and common hop, on a galvanized steel structure — are complemented with a bed of small shrubs and ground cover plantings. Related: A “floating” greenhouse is inserted behind a renovated Belgian home “The building, designed by Kuehn Malvezzi, blends confidently but calmly into the historical city,” the architects said. “The specificity of this important urban location results from the tension between the physicality of the brick building and the filigree lightness of the rooftop greenhouse planned in cooperation with Haas Architekten. From the regularity of its structure, the greenhouse on each of the three sides of the street forms its own conclusion, which responds sensitively to each context.” To access the greenhouse, visitors are led from a lime tree-lined market square, past the courtyard with the vertical garden and up a steel staircase to the roof. Operated by the municipality, the publicly accessible greenhouse overlooks views of Oberhausen’s historic center and the city beyond. + Kuehn Malvezzi Photography by Hiepler Brunier via Kuehn Malvezzi

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Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse

Carbon-neutral, prefab development targets sustainable urbanism for Rotterdams Rijnhaven area

December 19, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize the area of Rijnhaven, a Rotterdam port dating back to 1895, Blueroom and Urban Crossovers have designed a proposal for a new, mixed-use development that could serve as a leading example of sustainable urbanism. The project, titled ‘Rotterdam Next Level! — SmartMoves 51.90,’ proposes high-density development built from low-waste, prefabricated architecture in a range of building typologies, from high-rises to floating creative communities. The development is also designed with carbon-neutral targets and aims to increase biodiversity on both land and water. As a delta city, Rotterdam has had to cope with flooding for years as the majority of the urban area sits below sea level. Building on Rotterdam’s experience and reputation for resilient design, Blueroom and Urban Crossovers want to turn the Rijnhaven area into a forward-thinking example of urbanism that addresses climate change, climate adaptation and housing shortages all at once. Related: ODA to transform Rotterdam’s historic post office into a vibrant destination “A development that is attractive and accessible for all, but also, a development that adds a unique urban condition to the entire metropolitan area,” the designers said. “A district that further enforces the innovative and sustainable ambitions of Rotterdam. Thus, setting an example for climate adaptive urbanism for urban deltas around the world.” The proposal calls for a mixed program of hotels, retail, cafe, offices, makerspaces and dedicated facilities for housing international institutions focused on fighting climate change. The masterplan would also include a wide variety of residences that serve all market segments, from floating creative communities to single-family houses with gardens to high-rises with apartments and penthouses. Prefabricated construction would be used for efficiency and to minimize disruptions to the surrounding areas. Green public spaces, a floating park and a park promenade would be woven throughout, with areas set aside for urban vegetable and fruit farming. + Blueroom Images via Blueroom

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Carbon-neutral, prefab development targets sustainable urbanism for Rotterdams Rijnhaven area

Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

May 31, 2019 by  
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The island-state imports most of its food, but is threatened by crop yields and policy changes around the world.

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Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

May 2, 2019 by  
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After a devastating blaze consumed the Cathedral of Notre Dame’s wooden roof and iconic central spire, architects around the world have been putting forth their visionary ideas for rebuilding the Parisian landmark. One such architectural firm is Paris-based Studio NAB , which has made headlines with its proposal to modernize the 13th-century cathedral with a massive educational greenhouse and apiary. Dubbed “In Green For All of Us,” the design builds on the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s hopes that the cathedral rehabilitation be “adapted to issues of our time.” Rather than simply restore the Cathedral of Notre Dame back to its former state, Studio NAB has suggested recreating the original silhouette with new materials. Instead of timber-frame construction, the new roof and spire would be constructed from gold-painted steel with large glass panels. The rooftop greenhouse would be used to provide professional training for the poor and education for the general public on topics of urban agriculture , horticulture and permaculture. “On this fire and in the period of crisis that the country and the world are currently going through, we are lucky to build a place of reference where conservation, enrichment of an exceptional heritage and taking into account societal challenges in ecology and equal opportunities,” the architects explained. “Protecting the living, reintroducing biodiversity , educating consciences and being social, are all symbols, faithful to the values of France and those of the church, that we could defend and promote for this project.” Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient Inspired by the nearly 200,000 honeybees that survived the fire on Notre Dame’s lower roof, Studio NAB wants to transform the central spire into a glass-walled apiary with a larger number of hives capable of producing honey for sale. In homage to the roof’s original framework — nicknamed “the forest” after its many ancient timbers — the architects will also reuse salvaged wood as planters and other structures within the greenhouse. + Studio NAB Renderings via Studio NAB; photos via Wikimedia ( 1 ,  2 )

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Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient

February 19, 2019 by  
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French design practice Studio NAB has proposed a large-scale vertical farm as a sustainable solution to urban population growth in the face of dwindling arable land. Envisioned for urban centers, the conceptual vertical agriculture facility — dubbed the SUPERFARM — aims to produce high-yielding food with high nutrition values, including but not limited to various seaweeds, edible insects and fish raised in aquaponic systems. To minimize the SUPERFARM’s impact on the environment, the designers have also proposed that the futuristic indoor farming concept be powered entirely with renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels. Studio NAB created its SUPERFARM utopian architecture in response to the startling statistics put forth by Dickson Despommier, an emeritus professor of microbiology and public health at Columbia University. Considered a pioneer in vertical farming , Dr. Despommier authored the book The Problem , in which he proposed indoor urban agriculture as a sustainable alternative to traditional farming methods and a potential solution to feeding the world’s growing urban populations. “Vector for ecological transition, the ‘Superfarm’ project is part of a resilient and human-sensitive approach, paying attention to its health and its relations with food,” Studio NAB shares in its project statement. “Far from the traditional urban farm producing salads or other fruits and vegetables, the ‘Superfarm’ project, as its name suggests, focuses its production on the culture of foods with a high nutritional value that can be consumed in addition to a healthy diet, but also on foods likes fishes or honey.” Related: The GCC’s first commercial vertical farm launches in Dubai SUPERFARM is envisioned as a six-story building erected over water rather than land so as not to take away real estate that could otherwise be used for parkland. To fulfill the designers’ goal of reconnecting people to their food, the urban farm would also need to be located close to the consumers so that they can come directly to the farm. Studio NAB believes that because of the highly controlled indoor environment, no pesticides would be used in any of the farming operations. Moreover, water would be saved and recycled for energy efficiency. + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient

Spider webs and succulents inspire this water-collection startup

November 8, 2017 by  
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To harvest water from the air, NexLoop seeks to pilot its AquaWeb prototypes with urban farms and greenhouses.

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Spider webs and succulents inspire this water-collection startup

New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

September 18, 2017 by  
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A former golf course in New Orleans’ City Park has been transformed into the city’s biggest urban farm— Grow Dat Youth Farm . The seven-acre sustainable farming nonprofit features a low-energy Eco-Campus built with seven recycled shipping containers and designed by Tulane University architecture students. The urban farming and leadership program teaches local youth how to sustainably grow fruits and veggies that are then sold to CSAs, local restaurants, and markets, as well as donated to neighborhoods lacking access to healthy, fresh food. Founded in 2012, Grow Dat Youth Farm wants to do much more than grow delicious chemical-free food. The nonprofit farm’s central mission is to bring local youth and adults from different backgrounds together in a safe collaborative environment where they can learn how to grow their own food and develop personal, social, and environmental change. Most of the educational workshops take place within the Eco-Campus, a simple low-energy structure with an open-air classroom, two climate-controlled offices, kitchen, bathroom with composting toilets , and storage. A bioswale under the front timber walkway prevents flooding and manages water sustainably. The City Park birding corridor runs along the side of farm and provides a more wild contrast to the farmed environment. Grow Dat Youth Farm has a long-term lease for seven acres of land in New Orlean’s City Park and is currently growing on two acres with plans for expansion. Formerly a golf course that had been uninhabited before Katrina, the site comprised very sandy or mostly clay soils—poor conditions for farming. The team remediated the soil with lots of organic matter—mainly a mixture of coffee grounds, processed dried sugar cane, and chicken manure—and use crop rotations to add minerals back into the earth. Today, the diversified farm grows over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, from avocados and satsuma to beets and kale. “Food justice is a big part of who we are,” said Michael Kantor, Interim Director at Grow Dat Youth Farm, who stressed the program’s primary purpose to develop youth leadership skills. “Black farmers in particular have historically been marginalized so we create opportunities here to give young people of different races the chance to take control of food production, either here or in their neighborhoods, and increase access to fresh healthy produce—something many New Orleans neighborhoods do not have.” Grow Dat Youth Farm partners with nine local schools to recruit around 60 high school students annually. Starting January, these youth Crew Members participate in a paid, five-month leadership program held after school and on Saturday that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. The program time is evenly split between lessons on sustainable food , cooking, and farming, and team-building and leadership exercises. Graduates of the program are invited to enroll in the next tiered leadership position as Assistant Crew Leaders; a fellowship program brings in extra help around the year. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food “Our farm is pretty active from September to June,” said Michael. “That’s when we’re harvesting crops for the CSA , our main distribution channel that starts in October, or for the Crescent City Farmers Market or farm stand. We’ve also sold to restaurants and have been in Whole Foods too. We donate 30% of our food to households without access through our Shared Harvest program.” Grow Dat Youth Farm has donated over 26,000 pounds of food. In addition to funding from grants, donors, and market sales, Grow Dat Youth Farm raises funds through their seasonal farm dinners , where they invite celebrated local chefs to cook up locally focused, family-style meals on the farm. This year’s first farm dinner, on September 28, features chefs from Cochon and Peche, while the October 8th dinner features a chef from Shaya. Tickets are still available for these farm dinners. Learn more information about Grow Dat Youth Farm by following the link below. + Grow Dat Youth Farm Images © Lucy Wang

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New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

A D.C. urban farm takes on urban problems

March 6, 2017 by  
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Dreaming Out Loud’s new farm hopes to provide jobs, business incubation and more in a city ward that has often been overlooked.

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A D.C. urban farm takes on urban problems

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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Verdant Detroit: Can ‘agrihoods’ revitalize urban centers?

Tech to table: Lessons from Google’s foodservice strategy

February 17, 2017 by  
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Increasingly, a variety of technologies are transforming the world of food, from robotics in restaurant kitchens, to e-labeling for food storage, to wearable technologies for food inspectors. These technologies are helping us reduce food waste and lower impacts at every step of the food chain. 

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