From railway viaducts to alleys in between buildings, there are a lot of under-utilized spaces in our cities that could be converted into more useful functions, like affordable housing or community spaces.crowdfunded, Greenbelly is a vertical gardening system that converts residual urban spaces into "productive centres" for local neighbourhoods, with the hope of increasing food security, agricultural knowledge, and forging bonds between members of the community. The project also hopes to tackle problems like food deserts, while reconnecting "existing architecture with nature." Architect Alex Losada of AVL Studio says:
With Greenbelly, we propose a sustainable project at a manageable scale by recycling spaces, materials, and urban resources. We can make a greener and healthier city, feed people in need or teach the origin of the food to children.
The idea here is to use recycled materials like pallets, formwork materials like metal scaffolding and wood in order to create modules that can be scaled up to cover empty urban walls. The system would not only produce food, it could also protect these blank facades from humidity and sound pollution with an extra layer of waterproof and insulating material.
Native varieties of veggies could be potentially planted and harvested. Compost will also be made on-site as well, and used to fertilize the plants, thus closing the loop. Because it generates fresh food locally, food can be distributed and sold at a lower price, while engaging local residents in the food production process, whether it's education or hands-on experience.
Say the designers:
This architectural installation aims at reducing the distance from farm to fork — with only 35 square meters of land [376 square feet], a six-level garden can produce up to 6,400 kilograms of vegetables per year and generate 162 square meters [1,743 square feet] of green area in the middle of the city. Additionally, it provides a space for local community participation, a space where residents can share agricultural experiences and which can benefit the local economy. The structure is vertical but the platforms are horizontal, which facilitates the access to the crops and maintenance of the garden.
But it's possible to also use these modules for other functions, if they are enclosed: they could be auxiliary structures for schools, restaurants and offices.
Indeed, instead of sitting empty, spots of urban infill like blank facades, alleyways and rooftops could be potentially transformed into something beautiful, unexpected and nourishing, and projects like this show that it could very well be possible. To find out more or support the project, visit Greenbelly, Kickstarter, Facebook and Twitter.