One potential solution for producing more food in the city, while recycling waste and water, is creating modular vertical farms from shipping containers, such as Hive Inn City Farm.
Where there's plenty of usable space, farms and gardens can be as spread out horizontally as the grower has room for, but in the city, where physical space is a very limited resource, the only possible place for urban farms to grow is up, and one design studio believes the best way to do that is through vertical shipping container farms.
The need for standardization for space-efficiency in the shipping and cargo industry led to creation of the ubiquitous shipping container, and this design, due to its inherently modular nature and rugged construction, has been the focus of a recent repurposing renaissance. Shipping containers already make great portable storage units, without any modifications, but they also lend themselves to being used as homes, offices, and food production systems with a bit of customization.
One idea for repurposing shipping containers in the city comes from the Hong Kong design studio OVA, the firm behind a shipping container hotel concept that Lloyd previously covered, but their Hive-Inn City Farms design takes aim at urban food production instead of lodging.
"Hive-Inn™ City Farm is a modular farming structure where containers are designed and used as farming modules and acts as an ecosystem where each unit plays a role in producing food, harvesting energy and recycling waste and water."
The design centers around a grid frame capable of securely holding shipping containers and allowing them to "plug in" to the core structure, as well as be removed and replaced (or moved to a different location) as needed. The individual containers could be owned or operated on their own as gardens or livestock operations, such as for a restaurant to grow some of their own produce, or run as a single large urban farm, and because of the modular nature of the design, residences or office units could be interspersed with the growing containers as a mixed use building.
"The idea of this ecosystem is to bring farming down-town and grow fresh produce near their urban consumers. Containers can be owned or rented by major organic brands, local restaurants or even serve as private local gardens / kitchen gardens. They can also serve educational purposes for the neighbouring schools."
According to OVA, the design is intended to include rainwater harvesting, water recycling (through aquaponics and hydronics), the recycling of both human and animal waste into compost and methane, and solar arrays and "low wind" turbines for electricity production.
Granted, the Hive-Inn City Farm design is only a concept at this point (the OVA Facebook page says the first site "is located at 1st Avenue / E 39th St / E 40th St, New York," but there's no indication that the structure will actually be built there, or anywhere, for that matter), but the idea itself could have merit, and could serve as a viable direction for vertical urban farms in the future.