A Sustainable Structure

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When you think of urban city locations or large metropolitan areas, you probably think of large skyscrapers, various forms of public transportation as well as the hustle and bustle of everyday commuters. Most would describe these locations as “concrete jungles”, due to the implied chaos that comes when living in the big city. But the term “concrete farm” might be more appropriate in this case.

One thing you probably don’t think about when you imagine a big city is, farming. But architecture firm Precht based out of Salzburg, Austria hopes to change the narrative when it comes to the idea of farming in large metropolitan cities. They are currently pitching a concept called Farmhouse. In recent years people have become more contentious in terms of what they eat and where it is coming from. This being the case, companies are providing more options to accommodate those who live in these metropolitan areas. But what the Farmhouse is looking to create, is a more distinct connection between the food and the consumer.

The biggest challenge in trying to accomplish this in large cities is that they don’t usually allow for the type of real estate you would need to produce large scale agriculture. However, the idea is simple: if you can’t expand wide, then you can only go up!

The system offers an inspiring alternative where structural and gardening elements are integrated as interconnected architecture.

Here’s how it would work:

Prefabricated A-frame housing modules made from cross-laminated timber would be stacked to provide flexible living spaces. CLT is more sustainable than other low-cost building materials such as concrete because it locks in the carbon absorbed by the trees that were grown to make it. Each of the module’s wall would be made of three layers. An inner layer, facing the home interior, would hold the electricity and pipes with the surface finishes.

Rendering courtesy of Precht

A layer of structure and insulation would form the middle layer, and the outside layer would hold all the gardening elements and a water supply. Different modules would have different types of external systems, such as hydroponic units for growing without soil, waste management systems, or solar panels to harness sustainable electricity. An indoor food market would be located on the ground floor of the tower, along with a root cellar for storing food in winter and composting units for turning food waste back into growing material.

Precht describes their motivation behind the project in the following way:

“If we stay disconnected with our eco-system, we cannot tackle the issues of our time. Reversing climate change, less pollution and a healthy food system, is now part of architecture….If we want to encourage people to care about the environment, we need to bring the environment back into our cites.”

The idea is not only visually inspiring but the narrative itself offers up a really interesting alternative when it comes to producing organic food. It puts a new spin on the concept of farm to table.

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