Plantagon is more than just another vertical farm. We learn from PSFK that it "will dramatically change the way we produce ecological and functional food. It allows us to produce ecological 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 PlantagonÂ® greenhouse which makes it economically possible to finance each greenhouse from its own sales."
Do domes make good greenhouses?
There are no specifications on the site, but it appears to be a spiral ramp inside a geodesic dome. The amount of sunlight that penetrates glass varies according to the angle of incidence, so much is reflected away from steep angles. In a dome, a portion of the glass will always be pretty close to perpendicular to the sun, but it will fall off pretty quickly.
In winter when the sun angles are low, it will penetrate deep into the building, but will it reach the ramps on the north side? One would have to see the numbers.
The animation shows a different picture than the rendering, a wide, flat series of ramps without too much clearance, connected to some conventional greenhouse forms. It appears to be robotically controlled.
Is it "economically possible to finance each greenhouse from its own sales."?
They show it sitting on some pretty prime real estate, and all those robots cost a lot of money. It has been pointed out on a number of our other vertical farm posts that the economics of vertical farms are questionable.
But they make a case for it below:
Hans Hassle, founder and CEO of Plantagon, is quoted on Engineering firm SWECO's website:
While the global population continues to expand at a rapid rate, 80% of all land suitable for crop production is already being used for other purposes. With traditional farming practices, the Earth's arable land will not be sufficient to produce enough food for this growing population. In response to this challenge, Plantagon has collaborated with the consulting engineering company Sweco to develop a vertical greenhouse for the urban environment.
"We need to find alternative ways to farm locally and space-efficiently. By the year 2050, 80% of people on Earth will live in urban centres,"
We have therefore developed a greenhouse that enables us to farm ecologically in the middle of an urban environment. Sweco has helped us to study the technical systems that will make the greenhouse work. Within three years we plan to have the first facility up and running in a major city."
It evidently can be inserted just about anywhere.
They continue on the Sweco site:
"It has been a considerable challenge for us at Sweco. Our goal has been to find technical solutions that make it possible to grow crops with high quality and good operating economy," says Stephan StÃ¥lered, a consultant at Sweco.
The concept behind Plantagon's vertical greenhouse was created by the Swedish innovator and eco-farming expert Ã…ke Olsson, and has been further developed by the consulting company SWECORP Citizenship AB together with North American Indians of the Onondaga Nation.
Charming Idea or Last Resort?
Vertical farms are charming ideas, and often dramatic buildings. Perhaps when we have put farms on every urban empty lot and followed up with every flat accessible roof, they might make some sense. As one commenter noted on an earlier post:
Using expensive city land for farming is cute, but stupid. It defeats the whole purpose of the city. As late as the 1940s, most farms were located directly adjacent to cities, until we foolishly turned all those farms into suburbs. Before that, farms had to be close, because we didn't have a cost effective way to transport fresh food over long distances. Instead of making skyscraper farms, we should be knocking down suburban houses and putting the farms back in, but the likelihood of that happening is just as slim.
More at Planteco, via PSFK and Below the Clouds
More on Vertical Farms:
New York City's Dragonfly A Locavore Wet Dream
Harvest Green: Vertical Farm by Romses Architects wins Competition
Carrot City: Urban Agriculture Exhibition in Toronto
Vertical Farms Get the New York Times Treatment
Vertical (Diagonal?) Farm from Work AC in NYC