Green to the second power. Vertical gardens on the walls of tall buildings is being investigated, even implemented in big cities all over the world as people seek to become locavores, eat better and reduce the carbon footprint. However, some architects and designers have stepped right past growing greens and tomatoes with hydroponics or aquaponics, while others have combined these growing methods with the production of fruit off of trees too. Then there are others who are using algae and other organisms to create a bio-shield between the elements and residents indoors.
Can you grow 900 trees, 5000 shrubs and 11,000 perennial plants on the sides of a skyscraper? Yep. This development in downtown Milan has nothing to do with growing food. It is the world’s first vertical forest. The concept and planning began in 2010 with the idea of providing homes that were protected from the heat and pollution that are common factors in this city. The buildings are nearly completed now with a completion target of late 2013. All 4 sides on both towers planted in a mix of trees, shrubs and ground cover plants. They will give the residents of the high rise homes much needed air filtering and cooling, along with beauty in an urban environment.
Sounds cool? Its even greener than this. Besides providing a habitat for birds and insects in the middle of one of the most polluted cities in the world, the vertical forest will also optimize, recupe and produce renewable energy. Wasting water? Nope. The irrigation system is fueled by gray water from within the buildings. Trees that will reach about 30 feet tall (9 meters) growing on specially engineered ledges up to 300 feet plus above the ground. The vertical forestry space if planted on open ground would cover about 2.5 acres.
Okay, technically, orange trees grow in groves not orchards. But if they can grow fresh citrus on the walls of an office building, there’s no reason that you couldn’t grow apples, pears, cherries, peaches and all other types of tree borne fruits in a vertical orchard. Perhaps vertical vineyards are possible too.
In Tokoyo, Pasona is recruiting employees as a business and training urban farmers all at once. Everyone who works at Pasona is urged to jump into the growing and harvesting effort. They have 43,000 square feet of urban agriculture going on in the lobby, conference rooms, on the roof and lining the exterior walls. No new ground was broken here. The building was repurposed by Kono Design of New York City. They added a green wall to the outside of the building that houses orange trees in 3-foot deep balconies and added flowering plants that cascade down the sides of the structure softening the steel and glass structure.
The Pasona urban farm feeds its employees from the rice paddy in the lobby, the tomatoes suspended over conference areas, a roof top garden and other growing spaces in place throughout their headquarters. Some of it is growing hydroponically, while other crops are grown with soil. Their agriculture endeavors raise a diversified 200 different crops, all of which is served inside the 9-story building.
If they can grow a broccoli field amid daily work flow in Japan, there’s no reason that organic sweet corn, cauliflower and even fillets can’t be produced in the same space that houses executive activities in every other city on the planet. It provides employees with a better environment while helping any company to reduce energy costs with the added benefit of providing workers with good nutrition grown on the spot.
Somehow I can’t wrap my mind around elite executives in the U.S. donning rubber boots to tend the rice paddy in a tie in any corporate setting. Perhaps when the next generation occupies the CEO’s desk.
Image sources: Inhabitat, Dezeen