Bucky Fuller would be proud: geodesic urban agri-architecture

Paul Raven @ 14-07-2009

We’re starting to see a lot of these urban agriculture concepts cropping up (arf!); the Plantagon is (or, rather, might be) a geodesic dome containing a spiral ramp covered with fresh-grown foodstuffs, and its designers believe its food output would pay for its construction.

Plantagon: geodesic urban greenhouse

According to Plantagon, the farm “will dramatically change the way we produce organic and functional food. It allows us to produce ecological [food] with clean air and water inside urban environments, even major cities, cutting costs and environmental damage by eliminating transportation and deliver directly to consumers. This is due to the efficiency and productivity of the Plantagon greenhouse which makes it economically possible to finance each greenhouse from its own sales.”

No word on how exactly the Plantagon system works, but the company says that consulting engineering firm Sweco has helped untangle the technical kinks of the project. Plantagon hopes to have its first vertical farm up and running within three years.

Call me cynical, but I doubt the Plantagon as it appears here will ever make it into production. That said, the sheer number of urban agriculture concepts that are being kicked around at the moment suggests that there’s enough interest in the idea for it to become a reality at some point in the relatively near future… once pragmatism and the harsh economic truths of the world beyond the drawing-board brainstorm have shaved down the budgets a little bit, perhaps. [image by Plantagon]

Or maybe the construction of urban farms will be started in blazes of publicity and viridian glamour, only for the funding to be pulled (or embezzled, or just plain “lost”) half-way through, leaving huge Ballardian lumps of unfinished futurism lying around on the urban landscape, waiting to be colonised and turned into squelettes

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3 Responses to “Bucky Fuller would be proud: geodesic urban agri-architecture”

  1. Evil Rocks says:

    >maybe the construction of urban farms will be started in blazes of publicity and viridian glamour, only for the funding to be pulled (or embezzled, or just plain “lost”) half-way through<

    In which case I will snap one up for my multi-use, not-so-secret food-production and MAD SCIENCE research labs. And grow sophisticated food-producing ecologies to show all the haters.

    YOU ALL DOUBTED ME AND WHO'S LAUGHING NOW!
    http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder

  2. Rick York says:

    Urban Farming always seems to crop up during economic downturns. Partially because it is an inexpensive way to feed urban poor. However, one of the principal reasons for this is that empty lots lose substantial value, particularly when commercial real estate tanks.

    When the economy and commercial real estate rebound, bye bye urban farms. The vacant lots just become too valuable. Of course, this doesn’t happen in every city, Detroit, Flint, etc. But, any reasonably dense and prosperous metropolis sees huge fluctuations in commercial real estate prices, including land.

    Sorry to rain on the urban farming parade.

  3. gmoke says:

    “Smart Decline” folks are already seeing that in places like Flint, vacant lots and the yards of abandoned houses are becoming gardens. Urban agriculture has been going on for a long, long time. I remember visiting the Bronx Pioneers in the late 1970s to see their gardens which included a mechanized and large scale composting operation. I got about a half pint a day of strawberries from my community garden strawberry patch, about 30 square feet, all through June. I’m getting close to a pint a day of raspberries from my raspberry patch now. All in an urban community garden. At retail prices, that’s a pretty good payback. To say nothing of all the red currants and zucchini and cukes and herbs and tomatoes (to come) and peas and beans and….

    I’m a notoriously lazy gardener too.

    There are urban farmers in SF and LA who have been growing for years and decades. There are now people making a living by managing gardens for others in most major urban areas. This stuff will continue and expand as the foodie movement grows and as the locavore movement grows and as the organic movement grows and as the environmental movement grows. Maybe in a decade or so there will be a threat from increased real estate prices but it may be too ingrained and socially profitable to turn back by then.