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Can the Earth sustain 9 billion people? We'll find out in the next 50 years.

We're living in lucky times. Living standards - in the Western world, at least - are the highest in history. It's an era of relative peace and plenty that would amaze our ancestors. But it's not going to continue forever; we're already stretching many of our natural resources to their limits, and the world's population will jump from 6.5 billion to around 9 billion over the next 50 years. Get ready for a painful correction - here are four interconnected resources that are headed for a catastrophic squeeze within our lifetime.  Read More

Cauliflowers and other produce could soon be picked by robots

Researchers in the U.K. are working at turning newly developed imaging technology into an intelligent harvesting machine. Using microwave measurement, the system can look beneath the leafy layers of a crop, identify the differing materials, and enable precise size identification. Such a machine could minimize wastage in crops like cauliflower and solve an impending labor shortage for U.K. farmers caused by a fall in the number of migrant workers.  Read More

Gizcast #9: can Vertical Farming solve the impending global food crisis?

In this week's Gizcast, we're privileged to be joined by Dr. Dickson Despommier of New York City, who is perhaps the world's leading expert on Vertical Farming, a topic we've covered several times in the past few years. Dr. Despommier speaks with Loz Blain about the social, economic and environmental issues we'll have to face as the Earth's population jumps to 9 billion in the next 40-50 years. If we keep farming the way we are now, we're simply going to run out of land to feed ourselves - so the solution seems clear: we need to start bringing food production and agriculture into the high-rise age. The farms of the future, it seems, will be skyscrapers. Geoffrey Baird also joins us for a weekly roundup of top stories.  Read More

Artists impression of a VES in New York

Demand for office and housing space in ever diminishing land space has led to taller and taller buildings reaching for the skies in cities around the world. This shortage of land in many cities has unfortunately also led to a scarcity of natural vegetation in urban settings. We’ve looked at several vertical-farming concepts - dedicated buildings that provide space to grow crops in city centers - but a new architectural system from Vertical Landscapes (VL) seeks to invite nature back into our cities on a broader scale. The architectural system transforms buildings into columns of vegetation to add a much needed touch of green, help clean the city air and possibly even produce small scale crops, all while retaining the building’s usual use for office or housing space.  Read More

Plantagon's spherical design optimises conditions throughout the year.

While perhaps not as architecturally ambitious as the Dragonfly concept we looked at last week, this urban farming design from Swedish-American company Plantagon has the same environmentally-friendly ambitions along with a distinctly eye-catching design of its own.  Read More

The vertical farm concept will be located on New York City's Rossevelt Island

Building another skyscraper in the middle of New York may not seem like an environmentally-sound project. That is of course, unless said skyscraper is capable of providing a sprawling urban populous with self-sustaining production of food, reuse of natural resources and biodegradeable waste. Enter The Dragonfly, a dazzling, ethereal design from Vincent Callebaut Architectures which underlines the future potential of vertical farming.  Read More

The seawater vertical farm would make another stunning addition to the Dubai skyline
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The saying used to go, ‘only in America’, but in recent years it might be truer to say, ‘only in Dubai’, especially when it comes to architectural wonders. Buildings that would be unfeasible just about anywhere else seem to regularly spring from the ground in the oil rich emirate. The next eye-popping construction to grace the skyline could be a seawater vertical farm that uses seawater to cool and humidify greenhouses and to convert sufficient humidity back in to fresh water to irrigate the crops.  Read More

Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm concept

More than 50% of our planet's massive human population is concentrated into urban centres - and on current estimates, that's likely to be as high as 80% by the year 2050, a year many of us will be around to see. So the challenge facing today's forward-thinking architects is how to create positive outcomes out of a crushing space constraint. Going upwards, in projects like Eugene Tsui's Ultima Tower and the London Vertical Village concept, seems to offer some practical solutions to the living space conundrum - but what about feeding all those people? Vertical Aeroponic Farming seems to be an idea whose time has come - it will let us use land, nutrients, power and water much more efficiently than ever before, while delivering a quality-controllable, year-round and emissions-positive food source for urban communities. Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm is a design study that examines how a vertical farm might use the latest in agricultural and architectural technology to feed the cities of the future.  Read More

Rosie Roo gumboots

January 4, 2007 Most commonly women’s footwear falls into two categories – fashionable or functional – with precious little overlap. In the spirit of modern fashion, Rosie Roo from Australia is bringing a change to functional women’s wet weather footwear with their spunky new wellies/gumboots/galoshes (depending on what part of the world you’re from).  Read More

La Tour Vivante (Image credit: workshop SoA architects)

June 26, 2007 Would you have ever thought it conceivable to grow vast amounts of produce in the heart of densely populated cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo or New Delhi? A new model for agriculture is proposing just that. Vertical farming is the latest concept to address the impending crisis in world food production and follows the same methodology that town planners have used for years to cope with growing populations and space limitations; build up, not out. Aiming to bring food production to the places where most of the consumption occurs, the concept envisages specially designed skyscrapers that contain multiple levels of viable farmland providing all-year-round food production in a controlled, parasite-free environment.  Read More

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