Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The “Plantascraper” Sprouts in Sweden



"We’re used to seeing proposals for high-tech vertical farms that never seem to translate to real life, but the city of Linköping in Sweden has finally taken these buildings out of the realm of glossy CG models. Plantagon International is building a 17-story vertical greenhouse, slated to open by 2013, that will have a “transportation helix” to transfer vegetables and grains within its enormous spherical space. The greenhouse promises to parasitize  on the excess heat, CO2 and waste produced by the city, using it for warmth and fertilizer. The design cuts transportation costs, and perhaps most impressively, promises the equivalent of 100,000 square meters of arable land on a 10,000 square meter footprint. Still no word on whether building a gigantic steel and glass structure is more carbon-efficient than conventional farming, but retrofitting existing office buildings might help take care of this problem."


direct link: http://plantagon.com/plantagon/







From the Plantagon website


The necessary components for green food production are found in flows of urban resources as nutrients, water, CO2 and energy in heating, certainly in cities.

Without photosynthesis there is no life. The cyclic processes behind photosynthesis are an important link between humans and the technical systems that deliver services in cities (waste water treatment, heating, waste handling, energy production etc.). Therefore Urban Agriculture (UA) is a solution as long as people are urban.

As modern people we must strive to find good solutions in food production that use synergies in the hinterland between technology and everyday life. In urban agriculture as well as in rural area based businesses there are too many uncontrolled flows of endless resources. One of all problems in our modern society is “peak phosphorous” that points out the need of solutions that capture phosphorous before entering rivers and seas. Phosphorous is not endless. UA close to urban resources can integrate production to these flows of resources. Only the possibility to use these locally produced nutrients is a reason for UA by itself.

Food has been an urban product since long. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that UA delivers up to one fifth of the food produced today. UA is more than just old habits following farmers as they migrate into urban areas, UA can emerge wherever there are needs.

For city planners that do not understand the link between the resources (energy, water, sunlight, carbon etc.) urban agriculture and livestock keeping it is easy to stop developing UA. Farming in general has been considered as a risks factor. Therefore planners argue that unsolved questions on e.g. dangerous bacteria, different zoonosis or the leakage of nutrients imply an advantage to rural (far away from cities) agriculture.

These short notes below try to capture the arguments behind UA as a phenomena and Plantagon as the Solution making its way through an ever-increasing urban market, as that is where people live.

In short:

Urban Agriculture is a concept that restores our common knowledge of a cyclic system of life and its necessities. We cannot distance ourselves from the resources we need or the waste we produce.


Recently the UN estimated that Earth’s population will increase by 40 percent and exceed 9 billion people by year 2050. 80 per cent of the population will live in cities. Both the urban sprawl and the densification of the cities will create logistic as well as food security problems. In response to this challenge, Plantagon has developed a vertical space-efficient greenhouse for the urban environment.


The Plantagon Greenhouse can be integrated into existing or new infrastructure to increase the efficiency regarding use of water, waste and energy. The quite simple innovation is to use the full volume of a high-rise greenhouse, but to grow in the plants in a turning helix, thus maximizing the growing conditions for the each plant. The controlled conditions of the greenhouse also minimizes the use of water, energy and need for pesticides. The greenhouse will deliver fresh high-quality food directly to consumers or starving citizens of the third world. The Plantagon Greenhouse will dramatically change the way we produce vegetables in urban areas.


Plantagon won the 2011 Red Herring Europe Top 100 award and was also awarded Globe Forum Innovator Idol 2009, nominated to Globe Award 2010 & 2011, the Katerva Challenge 2010 and represented Sweden as one out of 50 Swedish innovations at the ”Wall of fame” in the Swedish Pavilion during the World Expo in Shanghai.

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