Urban Skyfarm concept would provide inner city farming space


July 15, 2014

Aprilli Design Studio has created a concept for an Urban Skyfarm

Aprilli Design Studio has created a concept for an Urban Skyfarm

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Two problems caused by increasing overpopulation in cities are how to use space productively and how to feed everyone. A new concept design suggests a means of addressing both these issues. Aprilli Design Studio's Urban Skyfarm is a tree-like skyscraper that provides space for crop farming.

Aprilli designed the Skyfarm with Seoul, South Korea, in mind, but it could be deployed in any major city. In addition to providing space for growing food, it would help to clean the city's air, generate renewable electricity and provide a place for people to relax.

The primary structure has a large, root area at its base to provide stability and spread the weight of the Skyfarm out across the ground. A trunk section rises up from the root and spreads out into eight vertical branches that are connected together by trusses to provide structural reinforcement..

The branches each support 60-70 farming decks, which can be described as the leaf sections of the tree. The decks are spread out as much as possible to ensure they receive adequate exposure to sunlight. Each deck has heating and LED lighting systems that are used to create "optimal environmental conditions" for farming.

The Skyfarm design uses a hydroponic system for growing crops, instead of using a soil-based approach. The higher, external leaf sections would be used for fruit trees and larger scale vegetables that need more exposure to air and sunlight, while lower, internal growing areas would be available for items that might thrive better indoors, such as herbs.

In total, the Skyfarm would provide 144,450 sq m (1,555,000 sq ft) of floor space, with 44,000 sq m (475,000 sq ft) dedicated to outdoor growing and 9,000 sq m 97,000 sq ft) dedicated to indoor growing. Spaces at the base of the structure would be available for treating rainwater and greywater collected for use in the growing process, processing food that is produced and hosting a farmers' market.

Viewing decks, public spaces and cafeterias are also incorporated into the design and a 3,200 sq m (35,000 sq ft) solar array on the top of the structure would be used to generate electricity.

The video below shows what the Urban Skyfarm would look like.

Source: Aprilli Design Studio

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

So how do they think this will be operated? I mean you obviously cant drive trucks or tractors on this. So do they imagine a lot of manual labor? Does not sound very effective.


Skipjack, most crops are able to be picked by machinery. The ones that can't could have some laborers. It wouldn't be any less efficient than manual labor on a standard farm.

Jared Keller

@Skipjack I imagine people would adopt a space and own it. It's interesting how things have changed. I went to school with a girl (pretty, A student, AP classes etc.) who finished her masters degree, worked for an organic food company for a while, and now works as a farm hand on an organic farm. I would have never pegged her for farmer.

Farms are "in" now.


Just what I want vegetables grown in urban pollution.


@slowburn Probably healthier than what you eat unless you buy organic.

Silent Hightimes

This is so absurdly inefficient and expensive that there is no way it would ever be a commercial success. The whole point of Vertical Farming is to farm more efficiently - that means you build a giant box (skyscraper) with thousands of racks of hydroponic produce on each floor, with controlled LED lighting and optimized CO2 levels. Use automated trolleys for wheeling around produce to the appropriate areas to keep the majority of human workers busy with harvesting and resetting produce racks.

Include a small bee colony on each floor for pollination purposes, and dedicate one corner to a diverse range of small flowering plants which assist in the bees' nutrition. Convert leftover biomass in a gasification plant at the base of the building to create biofuels which power generators to assist with the building's electricity requirements, in addition to at least one small or medium-sized wind turbine on the roof.

THAT is how you build a sustainable modern vertical farm. This so-called "Urban Skyfarm" concept is absolute rubbish.


Just think of the weight!

Can we really build a construction like this supporting all the soil/planting materials, water, the plants themselves and the machinery to manage/harvest?

I don't think those solar panels can deliver enough power to grow all those vegetables on all flours

Vincent Bevort

@Jared: Yes it would be since there is not trucks to carry around hundreds of pounds of harvest. Manual laborers would have to carry them around. It seems incredibly inefficient that way. I also agree with what Onihikage says.


Onihikage has some very valid points.

The fact that it's shaped like a tree is esthetically pleasing but quite impractical and costly. Designing buildings that have south-facing growing sections incorporated within their structure, while providing living, work and leisure spaces would be far more practical and efficient. The concept of making micro communities within the city fabric is nothing new, but this would take it a step further by including food-growing capabilities.

A dome or glass structure on the roof for a multi purpose people area for year-round activities and a commercial section at the base would help to make this concept a success.


Practical? Someone got a nice portfolio piece out of this.


I don't comment on things very often, but really? This whole building concept is ridiculous. It takes heavy equipment to run a large growing operation. Not to mention pesticides to kill all the bugs that want to eat your produce and herbicides to kill all the weeds that want to suck up all the water you feed your produce and overrun it. People don't want to be bothered growing their own garden, that's why there are farmers. I have an acre, and have offered sections of it to people who would like to grow their own garden and the very few who took me up on it quit when they found out that I wasn't going to weed or water it for them. (water was there, but I wasn't going to do the work for them.) Farming is a hard and dangerous job that is under appreciated, and people that come up with this type of "green" project are stupid green feel gooders. There are plenty of other ways to grow food in the big cities without crap like this.


I like the idea but it will be impossible to afford. The land cost alone dooms the project. Then add the construction cost for a giant concrete and steel structure and the cost of produce would be unaffordable for the intended market let alone the overhead problems noted by others.


There are no food shortages, so there is no need for these 'farms', so while it is trendy, they will never be built, as there is no business case for them. One third of all food bought in the UK is thrown away. There are excess food and excess weight issues, we do not need to grow any more food than we do already.

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