Farming the City in Pink_an example of factory of the future in Wrocław (Poland).
Land is an important natural resource necessary for the survival of humanity and for the maintenance of all ecosystems. During the millennia, one can notice the humanity’s striving to use the resources of space mainly for own needs and own production.
The potential productivity of land depends on the management strategies. The increasing number of population in a given area increases the demand for production, which in turn may lead to soil degradation. The intensification of industrialization and urbanization is progressing, the cities are growing, which in a consequence generates a shortage of agricultural crops and makes it impossible to produce the necessary amount of food. In addition, cities absorb agricultural land. For example from 1987 to 1992 China was losing about one million hectares of land each year for cultivation as a result of industry development.
A phenomenon directly related to the reduction of space resources is the growing urbanization process. Agriculture has become less profitable and many farmers are migrating from rural to urban areas. In 1900, only 13% of the population lived in urban agglomerations. In the middle of the 20th century, this number increased to 29%. Statistics for 2030 show that the percentage of people living in the city can reach up to 60%. The main factors driving this phenomenon are economic migrations (attractive and diverse offers on the labor market) and social (better access to public services, public care, education, and the media). In Europe, despite the declining population growth and thus the decreasing number of inhabitants, the number of city dwellers is increasing. By 2100, the number of European citizens is expected to decrease by almost 100,000. (to 645 557), while the percentage of people living in the city will increase by 10% .
The influx of people to cities determines the so-called a demographic explosion. The need of satisfying such basic human need which is to provide food is increasing. To feed the residents of London, you need a plot of land across Sweden.
Why in Poland?
Agricultural production is carried out on almost 60% of the country’s territory and uses over 50% of atmospheric precipitation. A significant part of this activity takes place in areas covered by various forms of protection or showing unfavorable conditions for agricultural production. This creates a number of restrictions for the intensification of agriculture.
For the Dolnośląskie voivodship, these difficulties occupy 44.5% for difficulties resulting from natural conditions and 43.9% for difficulties resulting from the established protection zones of forests of agricultural land in the voivodship, which means that almost half of crops are located in areas that are unfavorable to them. The conclusion that arises is one: agricultural areas are taken away due to the process of urbanization of Polish cities. In addition, 50% of them can not talk about the practice of intensive farming. An additional source of food is needed.
Answer to the city’s needs
In many countries, agriculture is the most serious cause of pollution environment. The use of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals within the past years have increased significantly (for example – within 50 years the use of pesticides for spraying arable land has increased 26 times).
Due to limited surface resources, vertical farms are a reasonable alternative to traditional agriculture. It is estimated that one farm located on a plot of 1 ha can replace from 10-100 conventional farms with the same area. Cultivation in vertical farms is also burdened with low investment risk due to easier control of climatic conditions.
Producing crops locally in the city center reduces fuel consumption needed for delivery, eliminates the problem of storing and artificially preserving food and contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. Controlled environment, always ideal temperature and humidity, eliminate the necessity use of pesticides and chemicals that have an adverse effect on the environment. Additionally, freshly produced, fresh organic food is healthier and tastier.
Independent, self-sufficient tower of a vertical farm in the center, integrated with tanks to the sales outlets located on the ground floor, it can not only contribute to such important environmental protection today, but also to increase public awareness.
Questioning the future
How do you imagine a factory in your own city that can help to improve the quality of the food in the closest area?
In February 2018 Wroclaw become number one on the list of the most polluted cities in Europe. If we are afraid of leaving the house these days, maybe we should grow vegetables and fruits in the same safe conditions?
Referring to the history of the district, the object was located in the area where grains were once stored. This plot has been the main food supplier for the city for years. Currently, there is a purchase of scrap metal, which presence in such a picturesque landscape is not justified. The district required revitalization and restoration of natural balance. We are located close to the city center next to the newly built residential districts and the old riverbed. This river becomes the main source of transporting goods. Around the water, a central, green point is formed, which creates the form of a hybrid building, which combines the cultivation of fruit fish and vegetables with apartments, offices, a conference area and an urban market program.
Who influences you graphically?
Lucio Fontana, Verner Pantone, John Hejduk, Ricardo Bofill, Wacław Szpakowski, Robert Wilson, Cedric Price, Superstudio and many others.
What is your take on colour?
In this particular project the color as the design background was chosen subconsciously. In principle, color was born at the stage of thinking about the project and drawing up the first diagrams, which lead to the final development of the idea. Color as a tool that integrates the design into a one piece, used as a background, allows you to focus on the shown idea. In fact, the choice of color is only an ethical and visual aspect that allows the composition to become characteristic, uniform and legible.
What defined montage as the prime medium though which to articulate the views? What were the main objectives of these images?
The aim of the collage is to communicate the space combined with architect awareness of space.
An example may be a collage of a food market hall. It is always a space of potential chaos. Variety of sold goods, customers, needs. Here architecture becomes the background for human activity and the situation changes spontaneously. Thanks to the collage, we feel the nature of space in a very easy and accessible way.
On the other hand the axonometric view is extremely clear- here the main focus is on communicating the spatial design and the shades of color are used to highlight different elements.
Due to the complex program, several selected views from the daily life of the farm were captured. We can observe contemporary residents involved in the process of growing food, farm workers and the aeroponic cultivation system, or the main view from the entrance zone. Images of the place depicting the nature of the project as a useful and effective way of showing the interior development of the building.
What prompted the project? What case studies/projects did you look to in terms of research of precedents?
Agricultural production is in Poland carried out on almost 60% of the country’s territory and uses over 50% of atmospheric precipitation. A significant part of this activity takes place in areas covered by various forms of protection or showing unfavorable conditions for agricultural production. This creates a number of restrictions for the intensification of agriculture.
For the Dolnośląskie voivodship, these difficulties occupy 44.5% for difficulties resulting from natural conditions and 43.9% for difficulties resulting from the established protection zones of forests of agricultural land in the voivodship, which means that almost half of crops are located in areas that are unfavorable to them. The conclusion that arises is one: agricultural areas are taken away due to the process of urbanization of Polish cities. In addition, 50% of them can not talk about the practice of intensive farming.
An additional source of food is needed and Wrocław is one of the biggest polish cities so why not in here? In February 2018 Wroclaw become number one on the list of the most polluted cities in Europe maybe it is reasonable to grow vegetables and fruits in safe conditions?
Are you interested in developing this issue further through different solutions?
It definitely would be a great experience to have the opportunity to work on a farm project that would be once implemented. I think that in Poland this market will open someday. Most probably it will initially be cultivated in former industrial areas or old warehouses. There are already few first specialized hydroponic farms, where healthy, non-injected varieties of lettuce are grown. However, as long as those farms are still horizontal, it is not so effective.
To what extent do you see the issue of overpopulation in relation to the excessive and unmoral production of food and resulting pollution 20 years from now?
It is estimated that by the year 2050, the world’s population will increase by 3 billion people and close to 80% will live in urban areas. Vertical farms have the potential to reduce or eliminate the need to create additional farmland.
As for the additional changes in nutrition, I think that simply we will not be able to afford meat, so farms must become the main source of food for big cities. In addition, it is important to find a way to increase the amount of products that we can grow in this way (eg as basic as potatoes or rice).
What countries are for you pioneers of these new systems?
Considering the scientific considerations and experiments being conducted, these are probably the United States (eg Dickson Despommier and research for Manhattan).
When it comes to efficiency and quality of implemented systems, it is definitely first of all Singapore. But there is also the Association for Vertical Farming that works in Europe.
Joanna is currently in her Master at Wrocław University of Technology and has formerly studied at Poznan University of Technology (b.arch KINDERGARTEN) and VIA University College in Denmark. She has previously worked with OMA in Rotterdam and BIG in Copenhagen.