I was interested in finding a small greenhouse that I could use in a friend’s small apartment, so I google’d “apartment greenhouses.” I eventually found a few options but came across two sites that present an interesting contrast to solving the problem of maintaining green space in growing metropolitan areas. Both designs combine urban apartments with rural farms.
The first site I stumbled upon is YnetNews, an Israeli site, with a post titled An Urban Apartment and a Rural Farm in One Building. It discuss Agro-Housing, the winner of the International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing hosted by Living Steel, and how it provides each unit a dedicated greenhouse space where the inhabitants can grow their own vegetables and plants within a sealed environment free of pests or bugs, fed by an automated drip irrigation system. In addition to the greenhouse space, the units are fully sustainable, pulling water from the ground using a geothermic system, are heated and cool with solar energy, and uses a gray water collection system for the greenhouses. Agro-Housing is made from metal columns and beams reinforced with concrete, just like many of today’s high-rises. (PDF Brochure here)
The second site hit a little closer to home. Ecogeek gives us insight into An Off-Grid Vertical Farm For Downtown Seattle, designed by Mithun. This is a much more dramatic design and fits the eccentric Seattle culture. On less than 3/4 an acre, this 381-unit building not only includes commercial space, but also can exist “off the grid.” Solar cells convert sunlight to power, a rain water collection system provides water, and grey water is used for the green space. In addition, the building is made from recycled shipping containers, saving the need to cut down more trees. (PDF brochure here)
Of the two designs, Mithun’s vertical farm addresses more of the future problems. While being a much larger unit, the fact that it can produce it’s own energy and have enough left over to share with the neighbors is significant. Agro-housing is on the right track, but doesn’t go far enough to provide sufficient commercial and housing space.