Vertical Farms: from Agriculture to a New City Architecture
Author: Thomas Bisiana, Sara Basso, Pierluigi Martolana, Adriano Venudo
Affiliation: University of Trieste, Benincà Associated Studio, Verona
The paper deals with the architectural theme of high-rise construction by cross-referencing it with that of soilless agriculture, recognizing new typologies and critically identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a new relationship between architecture, city and agriculture. From a disciplinary point of view, the text is organized in four distinct topics. The first part deals with height construction from a theoretical and disciplinary point of view. An excursus identifies in the high-rise buildings a human archetype that today defines certain features of architecture and landscapes in the age of globalization. The second part delves into the subject of soilless agriculture in terms of agronomic technique, with the aim of understanding its origin, efficiency and potential, but also its limits and weaknesses. The analysis is carried out by investigating the production factors at play, such as land, labor and capital, in relation to the revolutions that have characterized the agricultural production sector since the 16th century. The third part analyses three different cases of vertical farms from an architectural perspective because they are alternative to each other and paradigmatic. The skyscraper model is transformed. Agricultural activity, housing models and aggregated urban functions give rise to complex buildings. The first case is Richard Rogers' 2015 Skyfarm, the second is Carlo Ratti's Jian Mu Tower designed in Shenzen in 2021, the third example is Chris Precht's 2019 Farmhouse. The last part addresses a broader picture: food, cities, social justice, but also urban regeneration, recovery and recycling. Vertical farms are observed from an urban planning angle and considered as a useful element for guiding development and growth in cities and rewriting the relationship between architecture and the countryside. An opportunity to reinvent the multifunctional tall building, open to new ways of living and to redefine the design of the city
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