In a post-apocalyptic future, where sea levels have swallowed the ground, food will be grown in great towers floating on the sea.
It sounds like something from science fiction, but a Spanish architectural firm is bringing the concept closer to reality.
In a pilot project for the shores of Singapore, Barcelona-based firm JAPA has designed a network of looping towers floating on the shoreline to house crops for the increasingly land-poor nation.
“What we propose is not just a single tower but it’s like a network of towers that will produce agriculture via hydroponics,” said Javier Ponce, head architect and founder of Forward Thinking Architecture, the ideas lab for JAPA.
“All the crops will be produced inside the vertical structures that will be placed or located next to the cities and more dense areas.
“They will [then] distribute the crops, reducing the food mileage, avoiding CO2 and other factors.”
The farms are stacked in towers that sit like looped ribbon and float upright on the coastlines of major cities. They are designed to stand 150 metres tall, but the prototypes will begin much smaller.
“We used the sun as a design driver. The loop shape enables the vertical structure to receive more sunlight without having significant shadows,” Mr Ponce said.
The towers have a number of sensors that will monitor the crops remotely. They will operate on self-managing protocols, with consumption data collected from the cities telling the towers what to grow and in what amount.
“We aim to use a metabolic layer on top of the physical structure like a protocol,” Mr Ponce said.
“The aim is that these vertical structures have this protocol that is based on real-time data of the city consumption, so this will help us to know the amount of food and type of food [required], avoiding a lot of food waste.”
Design could be the answer for densely populated countries
Singapore has the third highest population density in the world, with 7,700 people per square kilometre.
Lacking space for agriculture, Singapore is forced to import 90 per cent of its food.
This concept could be the answer to food security concerns for small, densely populated nations that stand to lose more farmable land to rising sea levels, climate change and population growth.
“We believe these types of initiatives can be applied closer to the existing and new emerging urban centres in order to help mitigate the future food issue,” Mr Ponce said.
This can transform a city’s nearby territories into more stimulating environments, capable of self-producing quality foodJavier Ponce, Forward Thinking Architecture
“This can transform a city’s nearby territories into more stimulating environments, capable of self-producing quality food in order to avoid massive imports from abroad.”
Mr Ponce said the design could have wide applications for other land-poor and small island nations.
“We believe it’s interesting to explore because you don’t have land and you have premium prices and water is scarce. We believe it is quite an interesting concept to explore but it will depend on each country,” he said.
The Singapore pilot project has not yet begun and already Mr Ponce said he has received interest from international agriculture organisations.
“We have been approached by some agricultural societies and some private clients as well but it will take further study and quite a bit of time to study this in order to give a real opinion based on testing,” he said.
“We would love to work with technology companies and governments in order to see if this can work in the future.”
Mr Ponce said the plans had been submitted to the Singaporean government, and the project would begin once they had been approved.