Vertical Diet

What first intrigued us about the competition is its goal of exploring the new relationship between people and nature through vertical farming within an urban context. The longing of the urbanite to reconnect with nature in a way that suits the city lifestyle is one that we see all around us, however when push comes to shove we realised that we knew very little about our lifestyles impact on nature.

In fact, we knew so little that our point of departure seemed obvious, we needed to gure out what the spatial implications are of our diet. So we asked ourself the question: “What impact does our diet have on nature, and how does this differ around the world?” A seemingly simple solution was to connect our diet to a real footprint, a term frequently referred to as “foodprint”.

The subsequent results shocked us, not only the sheer amount of land that was necessary to sustain our diets, but even more so the fact that we and everyone we knew where completely unaware of this incredibly large foodprint. Thus an idea was born, what if our design could educate the local population about the spatial impact of their diet? What if we could develop a generic method of creating a building that is suitable for urban farming and residential use, that would become context speci c by communicating the local diet to its environment?

Using our research results we developed a design algorithm that could tell us how many people we could feed using only the competition envelope, and that would produce a building based on the local diet. This algorithm calculated for us that within the given volume and using the New York diet as a basis we could only feed 16 people, which is signi cantly less than the number of people that would normally occupy such a space (based on Manhattan averages this would be about 40, including all the services that are also housed in a regular city district!). This meant that we either had to stretch the building envelope into excess of 200 meters or gure out an alternative approach of communicating diet.

Looking at the gures, we quickly saw that diet (much like architecture) is not only a problem of size, but also a problem of proportion. For example; The New York diet contains a large volume of meat, the amount of space that is necessary to produce this meat is almost 1/2 of the total building volume. Clearly meat is much less sustainable than for example grains which only took up a tenth of the space, this is what we needed to communicate!

We divided the foodprint into six main foodgroups (Meat, Dairy, Grains, Produce, Sugar & fat, and Other) and con gured our design algorithm to divide the building according to the amount of space that these foodgroups occupied relative to the total volume. Because the building was now completely lled with production area we pulled the volumes apart to create large terraces were the few cows (only 4 who need 10 stories of feed production) could stand in pasture, with houses on the roofs and other buildings with different functions scattered amongst the other terraces.

The 1st terrace is set against the highline, making the cow pastures and chicken coops part of the highline attraction. Walking through the pastures, visitors can take internal routes which allow them to explore the building and visit the “farming village” that is spread amongst the terraces. Essentially a quaint village is realized amongst the new york skyscrapers, revolving around an agrarian mode of existence but deeply connected to urbanity by the skyscraper typology, while at the same time clearly broadcasting the impact of the New York diet to the skyline.

Project Data

Projecttype: Comeptition

Location: Port Vell, Barcelona

Year: summer 2015

Client: AWR Competitions

Buildingtype: Pavillion


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