A design concept for an urban vertical farm looks to incorporate social as well as agricultural space.
It looks like a wide, white spiral staircase, light and airy, rising up into the skies above the city. Each storey is brimful of green – vegetable gardens and orchards springing from thin layers of organic compost, sheltered from the wind, warmed by the sun and watered by the rain. The ‘Spiral Garden’, devised by Spanish architects Saida and Benet Dalmau Alsina, Anna Julibert Foyo and Carmen Vilar Agea, won a prize in 2010’s Incheon International Design Awards, staged annually by the Korean city of that name. The architects see it as a social as well as agricultural space, envisaging local people taking walks around the gardens, perhaps tending some as their own allotments.
At present it’s just a design concept rather than a physical construction. And some critics question just how viable it may be in practice. John Christophers, award winning Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, thinks that “soil depth, orientation and levels of sunlight could be an issue with the tiered approach.”
But it’s yet another example of the growing excitement around the potential of ‘vertical farms’ to provide nourishment – dietary and spiritual – to city dwellers: tackling the shortage of available land at ground level by creating gardens in the sky.
- Sam Jones and Martin Wright